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What is change management?

by | Jan 31, 2023

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No matter where you are in your professional and personal life, change is inevitable. It can be difficult to adjust to new situations, but with the right tools and support from those around you, it’s possible to make the most of any changes that come your way. 

Change can occur in many different ways; some may be sudden while others may progress over time.  It’s important to recognise the signs of change and be prepared for what may come. Taking time to reflect on changes, understanding the impact it will have, and planning for the future can help you make a successful transition. Having a support system in place is also essential to helping you cope with any adjustments that need to be made. 

What is change management?

Change management is a process that helps organisations and individuals manage their respective transitions to new systems, processes, or structures. Change management typically involves developing an action plan to guide the transition, assessing the impact of the change on those involved, creating strategies to help people through the transition and ensuring that they are equipped with the skills they need to successfully adjust. 

The goal of change management is to ensure that individuals within an organisation can adapt and thrive in response to changes in technology, customer needs, strategy and other factors.  By effectively managing change initiatives, organisations can reduce resistance and quickly achieve positive results from a wide range of business objectives.  With correctly implemented change management practices, companies can create organisational agility for adapting quickly to changing conditions. This will lead to increased efficiency, improved performance and better overall customer satisfaction. 

Ultimately, change management is all about helping individuals and organisations reach their desired end-state in the most efficient way possible. By proactively planning for changes and providing adequate support throughout the process, companies can ensure that they are in a position to achieve their goals with minimal disruption. 

With effective change management strategies in place, organisations can create a culture of continuous learning and improvement where everyone is empowered to succeed.

What does a change manager do?

 A change manager is responsible for managing the people-side of a business transformation. This includes identifying any potential cultural or organisational barriers, developing strategies to ensure successful adoption and implementation, monitoring progress and providing coaching and guidance to key stakeholders in the process. The change manager typically works closely with executives, project managers and other key personnel throughout the entire transition process.  

Their goal is to ensure that all parties involved are informed about upcoming changes, prepared for the transition and actively engaged in helping achieve success. By working with both individuals and teams during times of change, a change manager can help create an environment where everyone is enabled to learn, adapt and thrive.

What are the challenges of change management?

Change management initiatives require tremendous time, attention, organisation, communication and resources. Failing in any of these areas can hinder the entire effort. And even when you get all the logistics right, you still need buy-in from your leadership, managers, line employees and other affected stakeholders. 

Poor communication

Change can be hard to accept and understand, much less accomplish. When employees hear about a change effort that affects them, they’re understandably curious: What’s changing? Why is it changing? What’s my role in this? Will this be bad for me? 

It’s understandable for employees to be sceptical, worried or even fearful of change. Leadership needs to help employees shift their mindset and begin to see the potential for change. When employees understand what is changing, why it’s occurring and what better future will emerge, they can start to imagine that future and their role within it.

Lack of support

Change can be unfamiliar, mysterious and nerve-wracking. And people will want to exercise their autonomy to avoid change. That’s why buy-in is so critical at all levels of the company. 

Change efforts only succeed if leadership is on board. This applies to the largest Fortune 500 companies or employees within a small team trying to change work processes. All stakeholders are important, but the Directors are the starting point for organisational change. Without their backing, change efforts won’t get the necessary resources or authority, much less employee buy-in.

Middle managers might be the most important layer of buy-in for change management. They’re leaders who can either facilitate or block changes because of their operational authority. They’re also much like employees, wondering whether the change initiative is a good idea and whether it will hurt their careers

Cultural resistance

Your culture affects all of the above. Organisations with poor cultures are less likely to have the trust needed to build buy-in, as trust is low. Poor cultures are more likely to be siloed, making coordination and communication more difficult. These cultures likely have less engaged managers with lower-performing teams that are less capable of executing. 

Resistance doesn’t always doom organisational change through outright rebellion, but by slowly grinding down the change effort. You’ll encounter resistance at every stage: securing buy-in, getting budget and resources, compelling teams to work together and rallying employees to support the change effort. Too much resistance leads to poor results, reinforcing organisational apathy — “See? This change idea doesn’t work!” 

Lack of planning

Change management is less of an event and more of a process. Change can’t happen without a road map identifying “who, what, where, when, why and how.”

A poorly constructed plan results in miscommunication, lack of direction, missing or duplicated work, and a lack of confidence among employees who can’t figure out what they should be doing. 

Resources are also essential, which ties back to the Director level buy-in that change teams need. Organisational change requires money, dedicated employees and the authority to reassign teams, assets and tasks to support the goal. One of the easiest ways to starve a change initiative is to deny it resources.

Whole Brain® Thinking and Change management

Effective change management is backed by a robust change management strategy. This begins by gaining an in-depth understanding of your employees and how they respond to change.

To break through the change mindset barrier, you need to look at how your employees’ minds work. This is where Whole Brain® Thinking helps. It assists in determining how people deal with change, allowing you to implement successful individual or organisational change.

At Herrmann, we empower employees and HR professionals to use Whole Brain® Thinking to ensure a real and lasting impact when improving the change management process.

Discover the following resources to improve change management in your workplace.

If you want to learn more about how Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® can help you and your organisation, have a look at how it works here or get in touch and we’ll help you find the right solution.

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