Change is an essential part of growth. But how do you prepare and support teams and your entire business through organisational changes? We’ll explore the key change management methodologies to help you approach these.
Your workforce might not always welcome structural transitions. These can force employees to change the way they operate, which often requires considerable effort. Particularly if they like and are accustomed to the status quo and don’t see how making these changes can benefit them.
Such transitions range from introducing new software and tech to prioritising different strategies, instituting mandatory training sessions, and hiring new staff.
But, to execute any of these transitions, you must make sure your employees are on board throughout the change journey. This means more than simply sending a few emails, inviting them to attend a meeting, and hoping for the best! Without a willingness to change, a less than productive workplace will only continue to underperform.
Luckily, the best Change Management methodologies provide a solution to these issues.
A structured Change Management methodology will equip you with a roadmap for implementing change. This will help you tackle the many challenges that will arise during this challenging process.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective of these.
What is change management?
Change management is all about influencing employees to accept and adapt to changes in the workplace. Unfortunately, people are sometimes resistant to change. That’s why it’s crucial to find a Change Management solution that works for individual employees.
Luckily, there’s a good range of change management methodologies that can help.
Lewin’s change model
A testament to the effectiveness of this model of change is the longevity. Lewin’s change model has existed since 1940 and remains relevant to this day. The model involves three phases:
This is essentially the planning phase. It provides you with time to examine exactly what needs changing. Analyze your current processes and identify the weak points.
Once you’ve identified an area that needs adjustment, you can begin communicating the required changes to your stakeholders. For example, when switching to an automated system such as Robotic Process Automation, you can start by discussing the best RPA tools for your purpose.
This stage revolves around communication, promoting action, and involving your staff. Once a change is in place, you need to make sure that you’re vocal about the reasons for it. Highlight the benefits of change, explain how it’s helping to improve your business. It’s also important that you offer the necessary time and training so that staff can adjust to changes.
This phase is all about sustaining change. You’ve transformed organisational norms, strategies, and processes. But how will you reinforce these so that previously dominant structures don’t reassert themselves?
Employees need a sense of stability to adjust. Positive reinforcement also has a critical role here. Celebrate successes, let your staff know when they’re adjusting well.
The vital thing to remember about this model is not to rush through phases. Give your workforce the opportunity to get used to and digest changes.
As the name suggests, this method is all about giving your employees a gentle push in the right direction. This means avoiding strict enforcement. You shouldn’t penalise your employees if they aren’t adapting exactly the way you want.
Part of Nudge theory is celebrating when an employee is moving in the right direction. Try to make the change process as easy as possible. This means removing potential obstacles that might slow an employee down.
Nudge theory deals with simple changes. For example, you might be trying to promote healthy eating within the workplace and encourage employees to stay fit. Your staff obviously don’t want you regulating their lunch break. Nudge theory encourages you to promote the advantages of a balanced diet in an encouraging, non-intrusive way.
When it comes to complex change, you’ll need to look at more structured change management methodologies.
The McKinsey model
This framework allows you to review the effectiveness of your strategies and processes. It also enables you to determine how you might best support the realignment of these across the many levels and structures of your business. This one of the change management methodologies encompasses the seven ‘S’s:
This is your plan for success within the marketplace.
How is your business structured? Think about all the different elements that bring your business together.
Your employees will use certain technology in their day-to-day jobs. You should consider everything from CRMs to productivity software.
Your business will likely have a set of core values. You should reflect these across your cultural behaviours and habits.
Your workforce. What sort of remuneration packages are they offered? How are they attracted and retained? Is there a plan in place to reduce turnover?
The combined skill set of all your workforce. What skills does your business have at its disposal?
Your organisation’s culture. How does leadership interact with staff?
The key to this method is to identify, at a holistic level, how people perform key business processes. This process discovery for business is critical to improving efficiency.
Look at each of the above points and see how they interact and work with one another. If you need to make changes in one area, how will it affect your wider organisation?
Each of the seven points fits within either the “hard” or “soft” category. The first three points are the “hard” points. These are the most concrete and objective, and so, the simplest to identify. They’re also influenced mainly by management.
Change in the remaining four “soft” elements is much harder to identify. This is largely influenced by your company’s culture.
The McKinsey model is arguably more complex than other change management methodologies, but it’s also the most effective in bringing change to every level of your business.
The PDSA cycle
This is an ongoing form of change management to deliver continuous change. Is there any area of your business that needs constant improvement?
You could be automating business processes and introducing new software such as business process as a service (BPaaS). This facilitates the efficient delivery of products or services to customers.
As you introduce new processes, you need to make sure your organisation can accommodate these. There are four steps to this model:
Before you implement any change, you first need to recognise the areas that need changing.
Test your plan for change on a small scale. For example, if you’ve come up with a new way of marketing a product, test this with small groups first.
Look at your results from small-scale testing. Determine which areas were successful and which areas weren’t.
Begin implementing change. Remember, only go onto this stage when you’re confident that you’ve learned enough information from the previous stage.
When done correctly, the PDSA model works as a continuous cycle. Every time you implement change, you’ll likely encounter new areas that require altering. The model helps ensure that your business is never static and always implementing positive change. This way, you can stay on top of your BPM business process management.
The Bridges transition model
Handling big changes within an organisation can be overwhelming. The Bridges transition model focuses on the idea of internal transition as a method of coping.
It favours transition over change, with the idea that change is something that happens to staff, and quickly, even when they haven’t sanctioned it. Transition, though, is more gradual and within the control of employees, as it describes their state of mind as they adapt to change.
Through a process of transitioning, an employee can slowly and comfortably adjust to change. As with other change management methodologies, there are many layers:
Ending, losing, and letting go
This should occur during the pre-change period. It’s time to reassure employees about your confidence in their skills and how they will use them in the future.
This is when you begin introducing change into the workplace. Some employees may be resistant to the idea of changing. Make sure you allow time for training and communication, so they receive appropriate guidance.
During this period, an employee should have begun to accept change as the norm. It’s imperative that you continue to give time for training and advice. Without this time, there’s a risk that employees will slip back into their old ways.
This model will help your workforce come to terms with and prepare for organisational changes. Alone it may not be enough to bring about a difference. It’s a good idea to run this model in tandem with a more structured methodology, such as the PDSA cycle.
The Maurer three levels of resistance and change model
This framework looks at three different areas that can hinder change. By identifying and acting on these issues, you’re more likely to make changes stick.
“I don’t get it”
One of the dangers when introducing a new system or concept, like robotic process automation, to a workplace is that employees will fail to understand the change you’re presenting. In this situation, you need to spend adequate time explaining this to employees that have questions.
Through patience and understanding, employees are much more likely to be receptive to the idea of change. Without allowing enough time for an employee to get to grips with change, they may reject it.
If, for example, you’re adopting RPA, organising a session for staff to watch a Robotic Process Automation video and having senior IT staff around to answer their questions will help them digest all this new and complex information.
“I don’t like it”
Change can trigger an emotional response. Staff may feel unprepared and anxious, and this could lead to their rejection of changes. Allow them to express their concerns and make an effort to understand and address their fears. Allot plenty of time to allow staff to prepare for and understand changes.
In this stage, benefits cannot be understated, so make sure they know how changes will assist them with their work.
“I don’t like you”
If you’re implementing change, employees need to trust in your ability to execute this successfully. Make sure you demonstrate your competence by displaying excellent judgment and decision-making to your colleagues.
You should exhibit an air of confidence when discussing the process and end result. If employees find you credible and you allow them to see the goal in sight and understand the importance of change, they’ll be more accepting of it.
The Maurer model is great for identifying problems that can arise because of change. As with the Bridges model, it’s best used in tandem with other change management methodologies.
There’s no doubt that change is essential for running a successful business. Without change, an organisation can never grow. Each of these change management methodologies shows how you can introduce change in ways that avoid alienating your employees. Think about your business and which models you would benefit from adopting today.
About the Author
Tammy Wood has been involved with SEO for two decades. Her current role is Director of Technical SEO, for Automation Anywhere, an automation and business process management company. While not chasing keywords Tammy enjoys reading, buying shoes and writing articles about both RPA and SEO.