What is Change Management?

Change management expertise

The Theory of Change Management

Let’s start by looking at a bit of the background theory and the Kubler-Ross change curve, which is a very famous model often referred to when people are talking about change. It illustrates how human beings tend to respond to change, based on the experience of grief,  and tells us that generally we find change difficult to grapple with. 



What Does the Curve Tell us?

There can be a bit of shock and denial at first, potentially leading to frustration with individuals not wanting to engage with the change. Basically resisting the change until we overcome this resistance and start to experiment with change in our way of thinking. We then usually adopt and get on with the way things need to change.



Helping People Adopt Change

Change management is ultimately about helping people adopt new ways of working in the workplace. It’s based on the premise that human beings don’t tend to adapt to change that well. Hence the change curve and therefore we need a discipline that is purely there to enable businesses to help employees adopt new ways of working. This needs to have minimal disruption to the business with maximum value. As well as having the least amount of impact on the individual themselves. 


Effective Change Management

The goal of minimal disruption and maximum value is where the basis of the change management discipline came from. In order to understand change management we want to have a bit of an understanding of the background methodology that sits behind it. 



Change Management Methodology

There are several methods and frameworks that help to explain what change management is, however, Kotter’s eight steps is one of the best. It’s also the easiest to understand and the most well known. The idea of the eight steps is ultimately the thing that a business needs to do in order to take people on that journey with the least amount of disruption. Maximising the amount of adoption and engagement from the employees is the number one goal. There are again many different versions of these steps and depending on the size of the change the scale of the business. 


All these different variables will ultimately depend on how these steps are actually carried out. However, as you can see going from the purple green to the pink the slide is ultimately about initially creating the climate for change. 


Quick Wins
Creating that sense of urgency helps people understand why change is necessary. Forming some real coalition around it, then beginning to really bring it to life. By engaging people and communicating with them it helps them understand what’s going to happen. Bringing some quick wins helps empower people and helps to sustain and improve the adoption.


Engaging New Ways of Working 

Ensuring that it’s difficult for employees to go back into old ways of working. They’re supported in adopting and fully engaging with any new ways of working that might be being implemented.


Change Proud’s Change Management Framework

The Change Proud change management framework simplifies the steps we were just looking at. Thinking back to that change curve, we should always think of this curve when you’re thinking of change management. We’re managing people through that curve so that they can get to adoption and engagement as quickly as possible.


Four Steps

Here we break it down into four steps, which is very similar to the Kotter eight step model. Starting with creating the vision, aligning leaders and building a clear plan around what you’re going to do. Leadership alignment being the absolute critical part up front. 


Assessing Impact

Moving on to assessing the impact of this change we should ask some questions:


  • Who’s this change actually going to impact? 
  • What’s going to be different for them? 
  • Who are the other stakeholders that we need to get onside?
  • How ready are people to receive and adopt this change?



Now we move on to actually implementing the change. Once we know how it’s going to be impacted and how people are going to be impacted we can respond accordingly. We know the types of communications and information they need, we know whether they need training and new capability. We also know the way to engage them to deliver maximum transformation to behaviour. 


Finally, sustaining performance, measuring benefits, tracking progress, sustaining the changes for the future so it sticks and we don’t go back to old ways of working.


Four Steps Throughout the Process

Having these four steps in your mind will help you through the management process. Start with the vision to understand the impact of transforming behaviour through our change responses. This is done through communicating and training for example. Then we move onto sustaining the change for the long term, using a useful framework to really understand that all change programs and change management strategies will broadly follow this pattern of activity.


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