What does change management mean?
Change management is a very important field in today’s ever-changing digital economy.
Below, we’ll look at what change management is, how it benefits businesses, and why this discipline is so important.
What Does Change Management Mean?
Change management refers to a set of practices, tools, and approaches to help organizations effect organizational change.
The change management professional works at every level – from the individual to the organizational – to ensure that goals are met, obstacles are minimized, and change initiatives are successful.
Change management is often considered employee-centric, because employees are actually the ground-level drivers of change.
Since employee participation is so crucial, a great deal of effort is put into reducing employee resistance and gaining support.
However, other approaches to change management focus on processes.
For instance, the ITIL change framework is a set of guidelines for standardizing change procedures that occur normally within IT Services Management.
Below, though, we will focus on change management as an employee-centric discipline.
Let’s start by looking at what causes organizational change in the first place.
Drivers of Change
There are many causes of organizational change.
A few of the most common include:
- Pressure from competitors
- Pressure or demand from customers
- Changes in customer habits, desires, or needs
- Technological evolution
- Mergers and acquisitions
These and other reasons can pressure an organization to transform.
In many cases, companies change out of necessity. That is, they change not because they want to, but because they have to.
With the advent of the internet, we’ve seen examples of what can happen to companies that fail to keep up.
Borders and Blockbuster are two examples of companies that failed to change and paid a steep price.
Fortunately, many other organizations have learned their lessons.
Today’s savvy organization drives, directs, and manages many different types of changes.
Types of Change
Different types of changes depend on the model you use to define those changes.
Let’s look at a big-picture view, by starting with two of the biggest types of change:
Process-based changes are those that affect the processes of an organization.
Above, we mentioned ITIL and IT Services Management (ITSM).
Process-based change management frameworks such as these often occur within an existing organizational structure.
They don’t change the structure of the organization itself, the culture, or the people’s habits. Process-based change frameworks like ITIL are designed to faciliate IT service changes.
These often fall under the domain of IT services, rather than organizational development, human resources, or change management.
Human-centered change can involve cultural shifts, workflow shifts, job changes, structural changes, and more.
In general, these types of changes are more difficult, because people must change. And most employees don’t want to change.
Below, we’ll discuss a couple reasons for this.
Change management professionals often handle human-focused changes, using change models designed specifically for this purpose.
Though rewarding, this area of change management is challenging.
For this reason, much study has been devoted to understanding how people change, why they resist, and how to improve results.
How to Make Change Work
Change management is a systematic discipline with a set of tools, techniques, and procedures.
Using these tools can help change processes go more smoothly and successfully.
Below are a few of the ways that change managers make organizational changes work:
Implement frameworks for change.
Change frameworks are models to better understand organizational change.
There are several types of change models out there. Some describe group psychology while others provide step-by-step action plans for effecting change.
By using these models, change managers can create systematic change processes, which helps:
- Reduce guesswork, errors, and obstacles
- Deepen understanding of the change process
- Create a framework that everyone can follow
- Increase the chances of success
There are a number of change models in use today, such as the ADKAR model, the Lewin change model, and Kotter’s 8-step model.
Put employees first.
Change occurs at every level.
However, change managers never forget that people drive change.
This is why most change models focus on the human element of change. And it’s also why change management puts people first and foremost.
Putting employees in the spotlight reduces resistance, invites participation, boosts morale, increases support, and more.
Agility is key to success in today’s economy.
The evolving marketplace makes it easier for the agile business to outpace its competitors.
In extreme cases, the most innovative businesses devour entire industries.
Amazon and Netflix are prime examples. Their rapid innovation spurred rapid growth … and an equally rapid downfall of their competitors.
So what does business change mean?
At the end of the day, it means companies are willing and able to transform.
It means they are ready to embrace new ideas, new technology, and new ways of doing things.
And change management means making sure that businesses can transform successfully and reap the rewards of these changes.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.