What is Change Management?

change management

Most people resist change. When organizational change is required the first step in change management is to motivate change in the individual. Economies are not static. They have up-ticks and they take falls. Corporations must respond to economic changes as well as to political unrest and to technological advances to be competitive or even remain viable. Organizational leadership is tasked with moving the company from where it is to where management has determined it must be.

Defining Change Management

This concept is a way of preparing corporations and the individuals in them for necessary changes and supporting them through the process. It involves motivating employees for change and then reframing ideas about:

  • financial resources
  • procedures
  • job roles
  • other components of business
  • that will be different

Organizations are a lifeless set of policies and procedures. They only survive because of the living entities, the people, that drive them. As such, organizations don’t change. People do.

Levels of Change

Most people resist change. That means management must recognize how people will deal with the change, and then support them. That is individual change. According to a Forbes Magazine article, 70 percent of change efforts fail. One of the reasons for this is that management often tries to affect change with the finesse of ripping off a bandage.

Rushing change is dangerous because people must be prepared for it. It is important to:

  • consider what messages about the company employees need to hear
  • determine who should give them that information

Management must also determine what new skills are needed and how and when those skills should be taught. Organizational change then:

  • identifies groups of individuals that need to change
  • coaching them
  • training and supporting them to successfully implement the change

Finally, enterprise change targets the company procedures as a whole. It makes alterations in company policies, structures and in roles, including leadership, that are necessary for the transition. Enterprise change can only occur once the individuals are prepared for change.

Steps to Change

Mark Murphy, in his Forbes article, said there are three questions management must ask employees in making organizational changes.

Why do we need change? This question is easier to answer in a corporation dealing with bad times than a successful one. An old adage says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That is the attitude of most employees. Management must make the present look less comfortable than the future. There should be a compelling case for making transitions such as a possible threat on the horizon. Another reason for change could be that the company is not as good as it is perceived to be. Murphy calls this “lighting a fire under the employees.”

Where is the change taking us? The article says employees don’t need a lot of details. They only need a rough idea of what the changed organization will look like.

How will we get there? People are frightened of change and the idea may seem impossible. Managers must “build a bridge” by taking the employees a step at a time.

Much of how management prepares staff for transition happens in perceived attitudes. The employees need to see the management feeling positive about the change. That includes body language and voice tone. Transition is always difficult, but change management is made easier by well-thought-out and executed change programs.

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