What are the principles of change management?
Below we’ll look at 11 principles, concepts, and best practices that change managers need to succeed.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced veteran, understanding these principles can help you get better results from your change programs.
What Are the Principles for Change Management?
In no particular order, here are 11 core principles of change management.
Change Is Worker-Driven
Remember that people drive change.
Without worker support, motivation, and energy, change cannot happen.
Employee resistance is one of the most well-documented obstacles to change. You must do everything you can to minimize resistance and increase support.
And one of the best ways to help you do that is to remember that change is driven by the workers.
Vision Drives Change, But Managers Guide It
Change leaders create a vision and drive change, but managers guide it.
To successfully enact a change program, you need both roles and perspectives.
If one party is distant, out of the loop, or unsupportive, expect mistakes.
Invite Total Participation
Above, we mentioned that workers drive change.
One of the best ways to reduce employee resistance is by inviting total participation.
This will help employees feel valued and important … one of the most important ways to reduce fear and resistance.
Also, remember that total participation means participation from everyone. This includes executive supporters, low-level employees, and everyone who wants to have a say.
The more participation you can get, the better.
Reward Early, Often
Success should be rewarded early and often.
These rewards demonstrate the value of the change, show results, and give employees a reason to keep working.
Ongoing rewards and status updates keep motivation high, boost morale, and maintain higher levels of productivity.
Communicate Clearly, Always
Always be transparent about everything, to everyone.
Clearly communicate the vision of the program as early as possible. This will give employees a “why,” and help them understand the reason for change.
Communication is another good way to reduce resistance, gain support, and increase chances of success.
Plan Thoroughly, Prepare Extensively
Victory loves preparation. The more that you prepare – especially prepare for potential pitfalls – the better your chances of success.
Make plans to tackle every obstacle.
This includes employee resistance, executive resistance, budgetary constraints, “change fatigue,” and every other change obstacle you can consider.
We’ve repeated a few times how important it is to gain employee support … because it’s that important.
However, it can be just as important to gain executive support.
Early on, secure sponsorship at the top. This support can be critical throughout the process.
It can increase the chances of initial buy-in from leaders, offer protection, provide budgetary support, and much more.
To Succeed, Sell
A great idea doesn’t sell itself.
You must carefully craft your case for change, then sell it to everyone involved.
Sell it to business leaders, the workforce, and your change team. And, as the change program progresses, continue “the sale” by providing constant updates, reviews, and rewards.
Also, ensure you make a logical case as well as an emotional one.
People are more likely to respond to emotional reasons, so show how they will benefit personally from the change.
Change Is a Systematic Process
As a change manager, you are certainly aware of various change models and frameworks.
These demonstrate clearly that change is a systematic process.
It has a beginning, a transition period, and an end.
Remember that change is a process, and use change models to identify what stage you’re at, where you’re going, and how to get there.
Engage at Every Level, Continuously
Always remember to engage employees at every level of the process … and never let up.
Leaders who disengage or managers who remain aloof only shoot the process in the foot.
Disengagement causes workers to wonder what the purpose of the program is. Or, in worst case scenarios, they may push it aside.
Stay engaged, communicative, and supportive.
Remember to listen to employees, provide active feedback, and constantly drive the process forward.
Leverage Tools, Techniques, and Systems
Leverage any resource you can to achieve success:
- Change management tools and techniques
- Change management software and platforms
- Change models and frameworks
- Courses and certificate programs on change management
Learn from thought leaders and authorities in the industry. Study trends and strategies. Explore digital solutions and tools.
Leveraging the right systems can provide excellent insights, make your job infinitely easier, and help you become much more knowledgeable in your field.
Even when you do everything right, change takes work.
However, following the principles outlined here can cut your workload and improve your chances of success.
To gain support and help people embrace change, remember that everyone must touch the change program – bottom to top. The more support you gain, the better your results will be.