The purpose of this paper is to discuss the change management process. The change management process has become more and more important in the present age than ever before because of the rapidly changing business environment. The implications of change management vary from company to company (McCalman, Paton & Siebert 2016).
It is because different companies have different sizes, structures, and nature that affect the way they carry out their businesses. The term change management is loosely defined, and it exhibits a vast array of activities. The change management program should contain all elements such as training and testing, communication, market analysis, and program planning and implementation of new policies and procedures to be effective, which is the main aim of change management (Voehl & Harrington 2016).
In change management, defining the type of change to be brought about is essential, and the primary goal of the project must be communicated. There can be several reasons for the change management program. It could include a plan to support current business needs, improving customer service, or downsizing the company (McCalman, Paton & Siebert 2016). The reason for change management should also be communicated. Change management is considered an essential requirement in the present time as businesses are changing and new developments and innovations are coming almost every year.
The companies are compelled to make changes according to their external environment. For a company to be successful, the internal environment should be adjusted according to the external environment. The reason for this is that the company can change the internal setting. However, it is very difficult or almost impossible to bring about a change in the external environment.
Successful companies have been changing themselves with time, and it is a continual process. In the present era, changes and advancements are becoming very rapid, and the age of digitalization is thriving. Companies are using Information Technology-based systems and the things, which were done manually in the past, are now being done by computers. Therefore, every company must bring a change in the present era to adapt to the age of digitalization (Voehl & Harrington 2016).
Challenges Related to Change Management
A change management agent can face numerous challenges. The main challenges in change management could be related to leadership engagement and alignment, project governance structure, stakeholder identification and engagement, audience analysis, change impact identification, adoption measurement, training, and communication (Abel 2015).
The first significant challenge is related to leadership engagement and alignment, and it must be ensured that the business leadership and the change management team understand each other’s perspective and how the success of the change management program will be measured to cope with this challenge (Abel 2015). There is a need for the use of a yardstick with which the success of the change management program can be measured. The second aspect of the challenges related to change management is to establish how the decisions will be made, and for this purpose, regular meetings should be held (McCalman, Paton & Siebert 2016).
One of the main challenges in change management is the resistance from employees. The employees may have a fear that the change will destabilize their position and the senior employees are more prone to resist changes because they are more likely to be habitual of doing things in a particular way (Abel 2015). They might think that the changed state of the organization will have no place for them, and this could be the reason that they are not willing to change. The other sources of the fear of change could be that they will be replaced from their position or their existing designation will not remain the same, and their duties will be changed (McCalman, Paton & Siebert 2016).
The change can also occur in the form of the downsizing of the company. In this change process, employees have to leave their jobs as job cuts are applied by organizations to become leaner. Furthermore, business executives are always willing to undertake a merger, acquisition, or joint venture and with this, the employees of organizations face significant difficulties. Some of the employees may not be ready for their new roles. Some of the employees’ jobs will become redundant in the case of a merger, as there will become a duplication of tasks. Therefore, the future of these employees may be in danger (Miller & Proctor, 2016).
Change management is a risky process, and it has been estimated that almost two-thirds of change projects fail. To instill an organizational change, the use of a systematic approach and an appropriate change model is necessary (McCalman, Paton & Siebert 2016). There are different change models which can be applied as per the nature of the business, its structure, and many other factors.
Strategies for Change Implementation
There are some excellent strategies for change management, and these are mentioned below.
For every business, a well-designed change management program should include an effective communication plan, and it is at the core of the change management program. Communication should cover how change management will be brought about, why there is a need to do so, and explaining it when it will occur are vital parts of the communication process. The information to be shared during the implementation of the change management program should be provided timely at different stages of the project (Hrebiniak 2013).
The discussion should be carried out between the top management and executives with the change management actor or an outside body to facilitate the process. Moreover, regular discussions with employees should also be carried out. Discussions in the change management program are necessary for the employees to be taken in confidence (Hrebiniak 2013). The discussion process is needed because the employees may become fearful and anxious. However, these feelings can be alleviated by discussing their roles and integration into change management.
The employees may be afraid that they may be placed in the positions that they do not want, they are left redundant to do any work, or they may be fired from the company as change might require employees with different skills, particularly IT skills. Most of the older workers who have been working long can resist this type of change (Hrebiniak 2013).
The involvement of all stakeholders is important in the change management program, and their concerns should be taken into consideration. They should be involved and made part of the change program (Hrebiniak 2013). The employees should be updated about the progress of the change program, and their inputs should be solicited to get their greater support. Managers and supervisors are responsible for the change program to make it successful. All supervisors and managers should understand practical considerations when carrying out a change (Hrebiniak 2013).
Importance of Change Management
Change management is a continual process of renewing an organization’s structure, direction, and capabilities to respond to both external and internal factors. There is nothing permanent in any organization, and it is the ever-present feature of change management (Hornstein 2015).
It is the reason that change is essential to meet the needs of the future as well as to ensure that the company manages these changes efficiently. It means that organizational change cannot be separated from the strategy of an organization. Therefore, change management requires strong managerial skills. A change in an organization could be unpredictable, and it can occur anytime. Furthermore, the change program can be reactive, ad hoc, discontinuous, and often triggered by the organizational crisis. It has been acknowledged in the literature again and again that effective change management and leadership influence the success of the change program (Hornstein 2015).
Models of Change Management
Kotter 8 Step Change Model
It has been found in the literature that 80% or more change management programs fail, or they are unable to deliver the value that they are expected to generate (Hornstein 2015). Therefore, reasonable and due care must be given while implementing the change management program. Fortunately, there are various proven techniques and models available that can help in achieving success in the change management process. One of the essential models is the Kotter 8-Step change model, which has been described in the following.
- Create the sense of urgency: the first step is to create a sense of urgency, and this can be done by making others realize the need for change that is communicated as well as the opportunities related to the change.
- The second step is to build a coalition, and in this step, different volunteers within the organization can take part to coordinate and guide change activities.
- The third step involves forming strategic initiatives and visions. In this step, how the future will be different from the past and by following the initiatives is determined. It should define how the future reality might be accomplished.
- The fourth step is to enlist the volunteers who are individuals with a common and prepare them to embrace the change.
- The fifth step is removing the barriers. These may be related to communication barriers or other barriers. Moreover, it requires the elimination of inefficient processes, and hierarchies should also be reduced.
- The sixth step is to generate short-term wins based on the change program. It is useful to energize the volunteers who have participated in the change program.
- The seventh step is to sustain the acceleration which means that things should be kept going as short-term wins have been achieved, and now it is time to convert them into long-term wins.
- The eighth step is to institutionalize the change so that it becomes an integral part of the company. In this way, it is inducted into the systems and processes of the company (Kotter Inc. 2018).
Lewin’s Change Management Model
Lewin’s Change Management Model is based on three steps including unfreeze, change, and refreeze. Unfreeze is the first stage that prepares the organization to accept change and in this step, the status quo is broken. It means that the existing means of doing things cannot continue. It is easiest when the company’s sales are declining, or there are poor financial results. In such a situation, it is effortless for the management to convince others to be part of the change process. The company has to leave its long-held ways to perform various activities, and this is quite difficult. After this has been done, the next step is to instigate change (MindTools 2018).
The nature of the change process may vary significantly, and it depends on the type of change a company wants. For example, the change can be converting the manual processing of information and documents through computerized information management and performing and executing all the activities and transactions by using computers. In addition to this, it is also necessary for the people to understand how the change will benefit them. The third step of this change model is refreezing.
It is the step when things have changed. It implies that at this stage the ways of doing things in the past have stopped or halted, the overall standard procedures have been a meltdown or broken, and they have been replaced with new ways and the new standard operating procedures can be implemented now. In this step, the company becomes stable after being destabilized. Therefore, the whole change process involves destabilizing the organization, bringing the change, and re-stabilizing the company. Destabilizing the company can be dangerous, and it may lead the company to a complete failure. It is the reason that it requires careful application of this model to manage the entire process.
ADKAR Change Model
The ADKAR Model is an acronym of five different arrays (Ritosa 2014). ‘A’ stands for awareness, ‘D’ stands for desire, ‘K’ stands for knowledge, ‘A’ stands for ability, and ‘R’ stands for Reinforcement (Voehl & Harrington 2016). The first step in the ADKAR change model is to spread awareness of the proposed change and explain why it is necessary to bring change. The second step in the change model is the desire to participate and support the change. It means that the individuals working in an organization must have the willingness for change. The third step of this model determines ways to incorporate the change. For this, the persons involved should know to incorporate the change. Knowledge does not mean training as it is a narrow concept.
It means that the person should have the complete details and understand all the relevant implications of bringing about the change. The fourth step or ‘A’ of the ADKAR model is the ability to bring the exact change and start working in the new environment. Without developing individuals’ psychological, physical, and intellectual abilities, change cannot be brought about. In this step, the supervisors in the organization should oversee and guide workers to act in the ‘changed’ manner, which has been brought by the ADKAR change model. The last step in this model is the Reinforcement of all changes that have been brought about (Voehl & Harrington 2016).
In all of the three models discusses in this paper, the reinforcement of the change is a common step. Reinforcement means that change is sustainable. With the change model, new rewards, feedback and recognition mechanisms, accountability systems, an audit can be carried out. To prevent the organization from going back to the old ways, sustainable reinforcement of change is necessary.
Change management is an integral part of business strategy in current times, and there is nothing permanent except change. The companies in the present time are facing external uncertainties and rapid changes that are occurring in the business environment. These factors are uncontrollable, and this is the reason that companies are compelled to make internal changes. Adapting to change is difficult for organizations, and they apply different methods to adapt to change. To effectively implement the change, communication, discussion, and involvement of the primary stakeholders are necessary. The challenges associated with change are significant as almost 80% of the change programs fail.
Therefore, there is a need to take special care while implementing the change plan. It could otherwise fail companies because of the resistance from employees who may resist change because the nature of their jobs could change such as it becomes difficult for old aged employees to use computerized systems. To cope with such challenges, the training of the employees is necessary. The three different change management programs discussed in this paper include Kotter’s 8-step Model, Lewin’s Change Model, and ADKAR Model.
These models can be used for managing change implications because they provide the proven pathways to carry out the process successfully, and they are detailed and cover many aspects of the change program. Therefore, using a specific model is necessary to avoid the risk of a failure of the change program. However, these different models can be used by different companies depending on the requirement and nature of their businesses.
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