What is organizational change management (OCM)?
More importantly, how is it relevant to businesses undergoing change?
In this article, we will learn:
- What organizational change management is
- Its basic ideas and principles
- Other key concepts related to OCM
- Why managed change is superior to unmanaged change
Among other things.
To start with, let’s understand what OCM is and why it matters.
What Is Organizational Change Management (OCM)?
To answer this question, let’s look at some key around OCM.
Businesses are not static.
They constantly change, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly.
Large-scale, intentional changes are often called organizational changes.
Typically, these are pre-planned, directed change projects developed by those within the organization.
Organizational changes can impact a number of core business areas, such as:
- Organizational structure
- Job roles, responsibilities, and duties
- Tools, technology, and infrastructure
However, as you might imagine, such large-scale business changes are likely to be complex, risky affairs.
This is why organizational change management is so important.
Organizational Change Management (Change Management)
Most commonly, though, organizational change management – and its abbreviation OCM – are simply referred to as change management.
Regardless of the term being used, this business function has a few aims:
- Defining a set of aims and goals – that is, the desired future state of the organization
- Applying a systematic, structured approach to managing organizational change initiatives
- Mitigating risks, barriers to change, and the negative impacts of a change project
- Maximizing the positive outcomes, objectives, and desired benefits of a change
It is worth noting that organizational change management is distinct from ITSM change management practices.
In IT Service Management, change management refers more narrowly to the management of IT service changes.
However, for the purposes of this article, we will stay focused on organizational change management.
Change Management in Practice
There are a number of specific methods used in change management.
In practice, though, most of these methods share the same general approach:
- Analyze the current state of business. Before even beginning a change management project, change managers conduct a series of tests and assessments. These can include risk assessments, change readiness assessments, and more.
- Engage and motivate employees. Most change management practices focus on people. The success of a change project depends on employees, after all. Many change models and methods are centered around mobilizing support, building trust, and decreasing employee resistance.
- Give workers the knowledge and skills they need to effect change. Without the right systems, tools, and skills, workers won’t be able to make change happen. For this reason, employee training is another key element for many change projects.
- Make change permanent. Reinforcement is another crucial stage during most change projects. If change managers don’t reinforce and institute change, there is a chance that the change won’t stick. Post-project training, communication, and reviews are techniques commonly used to reinforce organizational changes.
This short list is certainly not comprehensive.
However, it should provide some surface-level insight into how change management works.
Those interested in learning more may want to look into these topics:
- Change Management Frameworks
- Change Management Jobs
- The Employee Experience
- Enterprise Change Management
- Digital Transformation
- Change Readiness
For more information on these ideas, feel free to browse our change management blog.
Why Managed Change Is Superior to Unmanaged Change
We have seen what change management is and how it works.
But what are its benefits?
That is, why would an organization invest in this business discipline?
After all, to manage an organizational change, a business must:
- Learn about change management, or hire experts
- Invest time, effort, and money into management – on top of other expenses connected with the organizational change
- Actively engage in other activities that are seemingly unrelated to the change project itself – such as reducing employee resistance, training workers, designing a change management plan, and so forth
In short – is change management worth the investment?
The short answer is yes.
But let’s look at some benefits of change management in more detail:
- Reduced costs. Effective change management actually reduces costs for a change project, thanks to boosted metrics across the board.
- Better project outcomes. Unmanaged projects are less likely to meet their targets than managed projects.
- Shorter project timelines. Speed is another reason to actively manage a change initiative – unforeseen obstacles, employee resistance, change fatigue, and other factors can cause projects to drag on.
- Boosted employee metrics. As we saw above, change management deliberately focuses on employees. This results in greater employee performance, productivity, satisfaction, engagement, and more.
- Increased chances of success. Unfortunately, many organizational changes fail to meet their objectives, either partially or completely.
These are just a few of the many reasons to invest in organizational change management.
The bottom line is that successful change management gets better results, earns greater support, and delivers a higher return on investment.