There is a process for translating change as an abstract thought into a management tool. This process has been recreated over the years as the needs of businesses have changed and evolved. However, there are still basic stages of change, once it’s actively engaged, which have remained consistent. The following is an outline of the change management process.
The Change Management Process
There are four primary stages for managing change within a business. These stages follow a chronological process; however, there are some sections that can overlap. The stages are: 1) Preparation, 2) Design, 3) Execute, and 4) Sustain (1EBA, 2016). The first two stages require significant input from leadership to determine how successful the long-term results of the change will be. The last two stages rely heavily on the effort and buy-in of all employees. In this regard, having an organizational culture that is open to change provides a competitive edge since it allows change to be actively engaged and sustained within a company. The outcomes of each stage of the change management process provide components of the overall change management plan and is used as the outline for the project that will be implemented to solve a problem within the organization.
The Preparation Stage
The preparation stage is very important as it sets the tone of the remaining stages. During this stage, leadership needs to get a firm understanding of the problem that’s being addressed by identifying the internal factors (i.e. leadership style, organizational culture, processes and procedures, employee productivity, communication) and external factors (i.e. technological, legal, socio-economic, political, competition) affecting the problem (2Kokemuller, 2018). It is also important that the overall goal of the change project is established and aligns with the strategic goals of the organization. The outcomes from this phase include:
- An overview of the current situation
- A root-cause analysis of the problem being addressed
- An overview of the ideal situation
The Design Stage
The design stage requires a significant amount of planning and time investment from leadership across all levels of the organization including identifying the ideal change management model to solve the identified problem. When considering , organizational leaders need to work backward from the desired outcome of the change to determine all of the steps involved with the change; specifically, how the transition will happen among employees. Each change management plan is made up of four smaller plans which include: 1) Training, 2) Coaching, 3) Communication, and 4) Resistance Preparation. Each of these plans should have specific information and benchmarks that can be used to determine if the plan is on track to reach its goals.
A training plan lists who and what training will be needed and when that training will occur. The training plan should be “sequenced in a way that allows for awareness and desire building before they are sent to training” (3Prosci, 2018). The coaching plan focuses on prepping and coaching the team and organizational leaders for managing the changes. This is a critical aspect of change management since these individuals will be the ones to help overcome resistance and hold other accountable for new behaviors and practices. These individuals are also responsible for the communication necessary to make a change successful.
The communication plan focuses on relaying “key messages that need to go to various impacted audiences,” and also identifies who will send messages and how and when information will be sent (Prosci, 2018). The resistance management plan focuses on identifying anticipated areas of resistance and which individuals might hinder the changes taking place. Provisions should also be considered to manage unforeseen resistance that occurs as the project unfolds.
Compiling each of the four plans into a master change management plan provides the overall guideline for the change management project that needs to be implemented. The outcomes of the design stage include:
- A clear plan for the project used to solve a problem
- An identified change management model
- A detailed outline of the project tasks and benchmarks
- A detailed plan for overcoming potential resistance areas
The ‘Execute’ Stage
The ‘execute’ stage is fairly straightforward. During this stage, the change management project is implemented and changes begin to take place throughout the organization. This stage requires heavy observation from leadership so that resistance can be managed. The outcomes from this stage include:
- Reinforcement mechanisms that provide feedback and open communication regarding the changes taking place
- Gap diagnosis to identify actual results from change vs. projected results from change
The ‘Sustain’ Stage
The ‘sustain’ stage is an important part of the long-term success of a change. Once a problem is identified and a plan of action is determined and implemented, it is necessary to focus resources on maintaining the change. Effort must be put into supporting the newly established organizational practices and behaviors among employees. Also, if a change fails, it is important to know why so that those issues can be avoided in future change projects. The outcomes from this stage include:
- Recognition and celebration of successfully meeting benchmarks
- After-action assessment of change management plan (i.e. overall project review)
- Individual and group after-action reviews and recognitions
- Corrective action proposals to realign projected and actual results of the project
1Educational Business Articles (EBA). (2016). The Change Management Process: Linking the Steps to Successful Change. Retrieved from: http://www.educational-business-articles.com/change-management-process/.
2Kokemuller, N. (2018). What are internal & external environmental factors that affect business? Small Business Chronical. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/internal-external-environmental-factors-affect-business-69474.html.
3Prosci. (2018). Change Management Process. Retrieved from: https://www.prosci.com/change-management/thought-leadership-library/change-management-process.
Megan Miller is a business writer at Aepiphanni, specializing in the fields of marketing, organizational development, and entrepreneurial strategy development. She has an MBA and a Doctorate of Business with a focus on International Business from Liberty University. Megan is currently active in article publications focusing on knowledge management in small and medium-sized businesses. She researches the topics of entrepreneurial cognition, international entrepreneurship, environmental scanning and knowledge acquisition processes of business leaders.
Megan’s professional goals are to help small and medium-sized businesses become established and increase their competitive ability as a means for improving local and regional economies on a global scale. Megan has a passion for teaching and training young women to become successful in achieving their career goals. She currently works with the Wellspring Living Organization as a volunteer in their Women’s Academy to help educate women coming out of human trafficking and domestic violence lifestyles. She also enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures with a particular affinity for Ireland and Italy.
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