What Is Change Management in an Organization?

In this article, we’ll answer that question – and more.

This beginner’s guide will cover 5 questions about change management:

  • What is change management?
  • What causes organizational change?
  • What are the types of organizational change?
  • What do change managers do?
  • What are the obstacles to organizational change?

Finally, we’ll tell you where to go for more information about change management.

What Is Change Management in an Organization?

If you are searching for a definition of change management, you will come across a few terms.

Here are a few terms and their definitions:

  • Change Management – Also called organizational change management, referring to the management of business changes, such as the adoption of new software or business process changes.
  • Enterprise Change Management – The formal capacity or capability of an organization to change.
  • IT Services Change Management – Change management applied within IT services management.

Change management as a discipline is essential for organizations for a few reasons:

  • Business changes are complex – and the more complex they are, the more they require management and guidance
  • Without change management, objectives are less likely to be met – and change projects are more likely to fail
  • Change managers help obtain employee support and executive buy-in – reducing resistance and decreasing project timelines

In short, change management ensures that business changes meet target objectives.

Many organizational change efforts fail, which can be costly and wasteful.

What Causes Organizational Change?

A variety of factors can cause organizational change:

  • Customer pressure
  • Competitor pressure
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Mergers and acquisition

Today, technology is driving organizational change across the entire globe.

This wave of change has helped coin the term digital transformation, which describes:

  • Digital Adoption – The adoption of new digital technology
  • Digitalization – An overarching term that describes businesses moving from analog to digital
  • Customer-Centricity – A focus on the customer experience and customer-driven products, services, and business models

And a host of associated organizational changes.

What Are the Different Types of Organizational Change?

Organizational changes can be large or small, complex or straightforward.

There are different models for categorizing these changes, depending on who you ask.

Here are some common types of changes that businesses undergo:

  • Strategic – Fundamental changes to the business, its mission, its business model, its revenue structure, and so on
  • Process – Changes to business processes, workflows, or business structures
  • People – These can include restructuring hierarchies, evolving the culture, or modifying other aspects of worker behavior

Change management would govern all of these types of changes.

What Do Change Managers Do?

Historically, change management has been called a people-centric discipline.

This is because people drive change – without their support, organizational changes fail.

The job description of change managers is complex and varies from organization to organization.

It typically includes duties such as:

  • Analyzing business problems and developing solutions
  • Creating strategic communication plans for mobilizing support
  • Assessing and analyze change project progress
  • Developing training and onboarding programs
  • Leading change management activities and teams
  • Using data to gain insights and improve project results

Depending on the size of the organization, these duties may be spread across existing personnel – or they may be assigned to an entire change department.

Ultimately, however, the responsibilities of change management remain the same: guiding change projects to successful completion.

What Are the Obstacles to Organizational Change?

As with any other business endeavor, organizational change has barriers.

These obstacles often include:

  • Resistance from employees and managers
  • Culture and habit
  • Busy schedules and already-heavy workloads
  • Time and budget
  • Infrastructure
  • Executive buy-in, or lack thereof
  • The ability to prove ROI of change efforts

Mitigating and overcoming challenges is a central part of the change manager’s job.

There is no simple solution to any of these problems, but common strategies are:

  • Making a solid case for change from the outset
  • Selling stakeholders on the personalized benefits and the ROI of change
  • Managing and distributing workloads effectively
  • Working with cross-disciplinary teams to design solutions that are achievable and affordable
  • Creating goal-oriented communication strategies
  • Using data to track progress, react, and adapt to changing circumstances

Change models, mentioned below, are designed to prevent and circumvent such obstacles.

Where to Go From Here

For more information about change management, feel free to browse the other articles on this change management blog.

Here are a few next steps:

  • Read about change frameworks, or change models
  • Understand the ROI of change management
  • Learn more about obstacles to change and types of organizational change
  • Know the difference between change management and change leadership
  • Read up on change management tips, techniques, and strategies

Or, if you really want to take your learning to the next level, you can take a change management certification course.

Final Thoughts

Change management is a complex business discipline.

Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help you learn more, both online and off.

Studying up on this subject is highly recommended…

After all, implementing change management can mean the difference between success or failure in a change project.

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.