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Change Management Strategies

Change Management Strategies Unveiled

What Are Change Management Strategies?

There’s a lot of uncertainty about the new world of work, but you can be sure that organizational development and change aren’t going to stop — and that’s a good thing. But without the right resources for embracing change in the workplace, that progress can be frustrating and overwhelming. That’s why every leader needs a strong understanding of change management strategies.

Find out more about change management strategies and how they can help you lead your people through change.

Defining Change Management

Before jumping into change management strategies, let’s take a moment to level set and define change management. As you’ve probably guessed, change management is the approach that prepares people for and supports them through organizational change. It’s a framework for getting people through change, without overwhelming or overloading them, by helping them understand why the change is happening and answering their questions before, during, and after the transition period.
A common use of change management includes organizational culture change, like the transition from full-time remote work in the short term to a long-term hybrid work strategy. To manage cultural change in this situation, people need support adjusting to the new norm of in-person work ⁠— and the expectations that come with that shift.
Or you could use change management to support the workforce through an organizational structure change, like a merger or acquisition. During this transition, roles are changing, reporting structures are evolving — and employees are caught in the middle trying to understand their place within a brand-new framework.

Why Does Effective Change Management Matter?

Without taking steps to manage organizational change, people will have a much harder time accepting it and getting used to operating in a new status quo. But with a change management strategy in place, you can guide your people through culture shifts and transformation without the disruption leading to negative outcomes.

3 Elements of Successful Change Management

Not all change management processes are created equal — and not all will lead to the best outcomes. Review these three elements of a successful change management initiative to learn what you need to prioritize during change.

A Solid Case for Change

Any change will be met with resistance from someone — that’s just human nature! — but it’s possible to make a persuasive case for change even to the most unwilling participants. And once you get people on board, the change becomes much easier to manage.
The benefits of change often vary by group, so the best argument to present to each of your stakeholder groups will depend on how the change will affect their daily lives.

Take a change in human resource technology platforms, for example. Who in your workforce are the primary users of the technology, and what benefits mean the most to them? The leadership team will want to know the result of your cost-benefits analysis. Your IT team will probably be most interested in implementation and maintenance costs, while security will want to know how access will be managed and how employee data will be safeguarded.

If there’s an employee-facing component, those people will want to know how the software improves their ability to get answers to their HR-related questions. If managers need to use this platform to monitor performance, they’ll want to know whether it’s easy and intuitive to use and how it makes performance management easier. Of course, don’t forget to include yourself: HR will need an easy-to-read dashboard to monitor usage and other important data points.

Although implementing new HR tech is one large-scale change effort, you have to make a different case for each stakeholder group. Being intentional about change in this way can be a lot of work on the front end, but it pays off in a much smoother transition with enthusiastic, supportive participants.

An Effective Communication Plan

Communication is everything in change management. Be as transparent as possible, and send updates whenever you enter a new stage of the process. When you can shine a light on what’s going on, there will be fewer places for anxiety about the change to take hold.

Tailor your communication plan to address each stakeholder group’s ongoing concerns. The more you can get folks on board with the change, the easier it will be to engage them in the process. Ideally, you want people to be excited about change and the possibilities it opens for the business ⁠⁠— and them. A strong communication plan can help everyone feel more involved and invested in making the change a success.

Change Management Software

It’s no secret that managing change is difficult. After all, you’re not only implementing a change but also managing people’s experiences and expectations around it. Change management software can help you keep track of all these moving parts so you can influence change while delivering the right information to the people who need it most.

Connection is a critical part of change management, and software makes that easier to accomplish. Connect people with the right information, resources, people, and company culture to support ongoing transformation.

Setting up workflows makes it easier to nudge managers with reminders to check in with their teams and to ask questions about how they can better support employees. You can deliver the resources managers need to be most effective during this challenging time. You can also set up content campaigns customized to each stakeholder group.
That’s how Hugo Boss Australia, premium fashion and lifestyle brand, managed communication and change related to COVID-19. By automating messages from the managing director, and customizing those messages per role or stakeholder group, Hugo Boss’s HR team was able to settle a lot of the anxiety related to pandemic-driven changes in staffing and operations.

The team received a lot of feedback from employees who said the shift to centralized communication made them feel more informed and valued.

Having software that sends regular updates and provides additional resources about the benefits of the change can help you win over even the most resistant team members.

3 Organizational Change Management Strategies

There are a number of ways to approach organizational change. Here are three common change management models to inform your strategy.

Lewin’s Change Management Model

Lewin’s change management model has been popular for decades, and for good reason. The model’s powerfully simple concept makes change easier to manage. Lewin’s model unfolds in three stages: unfreeze, change, and refreeze.

Unfreezing examines the scope of the change. During this stage, you’ll identify the people most affected by the change and anticipate their resistance. Tailor communication to overcome each resistance area and drive buy-in from your stakeholder groups. At this point, you’ll want to design and share a vision for the change: Why is this change essential, and how does each group benefit once the change is implemented?

The second stage, change, is for implementation. This probably won’t be a one-and-done process: The model encourages rolling out pieces of the change at a time and gathering feedback along the way. Once you have feedback from a representative sample of the workforce, you can tailor your approach to make the implementation easier.

Finally refreezing is when you settle into a new status quo. During this stage, your priority is to provide team members with ongoing support. Keep lines of communication open to continue collecting feedback. Implement training programs to reinforce behaviors that maintain this new status quo.

The ADKAR Model

ADKAR is an acronym for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement. This model invites employees to take the lead. It relies on strong communication to prompt employees to understand the need for change.

Here’s how the five steps play out. First, communication around the benefits of the change is critical for creating awareness. Next, to foster desire for the change, designate change agents to communicate the benefits more effectively to their peers across stakeholder groups.

Then, stakeholders need specific knowledge to play their part in implementing and supporting the change. The fourth step in the ADKAR model, ability, refers to preparing stakeholders to carry out what they learned during the knowledge stage. Hands-on training can be beneficial to stakeholders and give you real-time insights into how folks are acclimating to their role in the transition.

Finally, reinforcement is an ongoing component during the change process and after its implementation. Provide recognition and small rewards to stakeholders who successfully maintain the change by changing their behavior and role-modeling it for others.

Organizational Development Process

Organizational development isn’t limited to change management, but it can help you manage change effectively. Organizational development breaks the change process down into five phases: entry, diagnosis, feedback, solution, and evaluation.

In the entry phase, you determine the opportunity for change and set expectations for desired outcomes. In the diagnosis phase, gather data across your stakeholder groups to assess the scope of the change. At the feedback phase, you’ll review the data you collected and begin forming a plan for the change process. You’ll also determine the metrics for monitoring your progress.

The solution phase digs deeper into an implementation plan. This is where you’ll begin developing detailed communication plans and laying out training programs to support the change process. The final stage, evaluation, collects data across the implementation process and beyond. That data analysis helps you determine how successful the change was and how you can continue to improve the process.

The process-oriented nature of this model helps you stay organized and intentional about the direction you’re taking at each phase of the change journey.

Leading Through Change With Change Management Strategies

We’ve all been through our fair share of workplace change in recent years, and we can expect that to continue. You need a plan for proactively addressing organizational change and winning over your workforce. Using change management strategies helps you support everyone, from top management to entry-level employees, as they adjust to never-ending change.