A Practical Guide to Change Management

    Change is a constant part of business, through which companies grow and move towards success. But when it comes to change, it is important to do it systematically. Unfortunately, even though most businesses plan to carry out more major change initiatives, half of these initiatives fail, while only 34% are seen as a clear success. 

    When it comes to establishing a smooth and influential change process, change management is a project management approach designed for that very purpose. This article defines change management, discusses its benefits for an organization’s success, and serves as a step-by-step guide to adopting an effective change management strategy.

    What is Change Management?

    Change management is a structured approach toward change. Change often requires a certain amount of cooperation between every level and individual entity within organizations. Enacting change management helps employees achieve a common goal and promote the advancement of an entire company. 

    If a company does not have a plan for implementing, monitoring, and reporting on the direction of change, the chances of failure are greater. Harnessing change through methodical means facilitates smoother transitions with an increased success rate. 

    There are three common types of organizational change: 

    • Developmental change: This type of change refers to developing or enhancing an existing process in the organization. This includes improving existing skills, processes, practices, performance standards, or conditions. 
    • Transformational change: Transformational change is a more drastic type of change. It often involves doing away with or bringing about extreme change in work processes.
    • Transitional change: Transitional change happens when the company emerges into a new state of working, approach, or management. The clearest example of transitional change is when a company is merged or taken over by another company. 

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    Benefits of Change Management

    • Change management provides a clear framework for everyone to follow. This framework is based on the best practices for change and aimed at the best results, making the process of change less complicated and more scalable. 
    • The implementation of change management lessens the chance of risks and disruption. And, with a clear sense of direction and a roadmap to follow, employees can chart inconsistencies and rectify them almost immediately. 
    • Change management reduces the amount of time required to implement change by eliminating unnecessary hindrances and setting coherence between departments when it comes to achieving the same goal. This allows businesses to respond faster to customer demands.
    • A change management strategy helps align change with business strategy. A constructive strategy should always consider the organization’s long-term goals, allowing businesses to make headway toward their ultimate goal while executing small changes. 
    • Through strategizing, it becomes easier to assess the overall differences brought by change. Moreover, measuring the impact of one change initiative helps better identify faults and needs, which helps shape the next strategy to work even better. 
    • Planning what to change also brings people together to work collaboratively toward the same goal. This boosts employee morale and gives everyone a sense of purpose.
    • With better response time, higher success rates, and enhanced employee morale, organizations gain an edge over their competitors. These qualities are just a supplement brought in by a robust change management strategy other than its main objective.
    • Change management helps businesses stay true to their budget. With predetermined areas of change and fewer chances of setbacks and downtimes, change management makes change more affordable.

    Key Steps in Change Management

    Define change

    While businesses may be eager to replace an ongoing process with a better-suited one, it is necessary to determine whether changing it is required. Will the alternatives meet expectations for desired results? Or will the anticipated results align with the organizational goals?

    These questions need to be addressed at all management levels. Once the need for change has been specified, the next step is to compare the current scenario with the outcomes of the change along with any other situation with better outcomes.

    Build engagement

    Ideally, any change management program should start with educating the workforce about the change and how it will affect operations. Business leaders or influential managers must share the effect of the change along with the challenges and benefits of implementation with everyone within the same work environment.

    When more people understand the need for change and its broader implication, higher engagement reduces the chances of failure. Hence, change leaders must perform a readiness assessment in the initial stages to determine the organization’s readiness to embrace change.

    Strategizing in a top-down manner

    The strategizing stage is all about assembling the right change management team. This should include major stakeholders, management, departments, and individuals. With a top-down involvement approach, major concerns can be addressed more thoroughly.

    Moreover, with different inputs from everyone, the change drivers can record more scenarios and devise a workable plan for everyone’s benefit. Such an approach makes it possible to address the concerns of stakeholders without compromising the success of the plan.

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    Achieve goals in parts

    Change management is more than knowing in what direction the change is taking the organization. It is to steer the organization’s collective efforts and adapt at every stage of change-making. 

    A major advantage of achieving change step-by-step is that the change drivers can alter the plan for greater benefits and save time by eradicating the need to go back to the previous step in case of a miscalculation. In addition, establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and setting milestones can help gauge the progress more effectively.

    Analyze, rectify, proceed

    Quantifying the gaps and resistance working against the original plan can help make the plan more fruitful. The plan that the organization may have initially started with may not seem suitable to adhere to at some point in time.

    This is why it is necessary to alter or rectify the plan in accordance with the desired outcome. If the organization fails to stop and reflect at crucial moments, the plan may not bring the preferred outcome, or it may even go wrong.

    Reinforce change-oriented values

    As an organization gains familiarity with the practice of change management, it can implement change without experiencing any lapses and expedite the process. For this to happen, executives must constantly engage employees to accept change and feel motivated to implement change.

    Employees need to get acquainted with goal assessment and acceptance toward outcomes, aiming for higher success rates, rewards, consequences, and such variables. In addition, business leaders should make an effort to ingrain the change program into the company culture and create a change-friendly environment.

    Start With Small Steps

    In an ever-changing market, change management is a vital methodology for the long-term success of businesses of all sizes. An organization that will condition itself to implement change will shine on top of its industry due to its ability to quickly adopt new technologies, respond to crises, and leverage previously untapped skills.

    Before planning a large-scale change program, try exploring a small pilot project. This will help your organization discover the benefits of this initiative, encourage adoption by attracting participants, and better identify threats when jumping into it.

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    Kashyap Vyas
    Kashyap Vyas
    Kashyap Vyas is a writer with 9+ years of experience writing about SaaS, cloud communications, data analytics, IT security, and STEM topics. In addition to IT Business Edge, he's been a contributor to publications including Interesting Engineering, Machine Design, Design World, and several other peer-reviewed journals. Kashyap is also a digital marketing enthusiast and runs his own small consulting agency.
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