No one likes change, and that is a fact. Most of us avoid stepping out of our comfort zone, and we always resist new ways of doing things. Yes, change is absolutely necessary for growth, but it’s also challenging.

This is especially true when you’re introducing change in an organization. With diverse workforces and multiple power centers, implementing an organizational change can be cumbersome.

Nonetheless, organizations must learn how to manage change if they want to thrive and stay on top of their game. 70% of change initiatives fail as a result of bad management and poor implementation!

That’s why, in this blog post, we will walk you through everything you need to know about organizational change management. Ready? Let’s go.


What is Organizational Change Management? (Definition)

Organizational changes are the changes that can have a huge effect on the entire organization, such as major shifts in service offerings, company goals, personnel, operations, etc.

Organizational change management (OCM) is a systematic approach of managing the impact of these changes.

According to Dr. Russell E. Johnson, MSU Foundation Professor of Management in the Eli Broad College of Business, organizational change management is “the planned organizational-wide effort to increase individual and organizational effectiveness via behavioral science knowledge.”

OCM usually involves a top-down approach to managing change, and it drastically reduces the potential negative impact of general and structural changes in the organization. Moreover, OCM focuses on both the micro (requiring workers to learn new techniques) and the macro levels (investing in a new software).

Now that you know the basics of what organizational change management is, let’s head over to the next section, i.e, the four types of OCM.


Four Types of Organizational Change Management

1. People-Centric Organizational Change

While any changes in the organization affect the people involved, the people-centric organizational change is all about the ‘people’ involved in your organization.

For example, an extended paternal leave, bringing on new hires, introducing a no-smoking policy, or extending the notice period.

In this type of organizational change, you need to keep an empathetic approach throughout – even if you believe that your employees would love the change – because emotional reactions are extremely common!

Many change management models that we are going to talk about later focus on managing these emotional reactions.

Read more: Change Management Plan: What is it and How to Create it?


2. Structural Organizational Change

Structural organizational change involves modifying the hierarchy of authority, administrative procedures, team organization, management systems, and responsibilities of different departments, teams, or employees.

Nearly every change in the way an organization is managed comes under the category of structural change.

Structural changes often overlap with people-centric changes. Why? Because they directly affect most of the employees.

Some examples of structural change include mergers and acquisitions, creating a new team or department, or changing the company’s organizational chart.


3. Strategic Transformational Changes

Every change is bound to affect at least a few aspects of an organization. However, not every change is ‘transformational’.

For instance, if you make minor modifications to an existing company policy, it might influence your organization a little, but it will not completely redefine your organization.

Whereas, big changes dramatically transform companies. Whether this transformation works wonders or ends up as a disaster – depends on the strategy that you use to create the change.

All in all, if you want good results, you need to be strategic and do some serious planning.


4. Remedial Organizational Change

Remedial organizational change is entirely reactionary. That means, this kind of change takes place when a problem is identified, and a solution needs to be implemented.

As these changes are initiated to address a particular problem or an issue, they need immediate action.

The good part is that judging the success of a remedial change is pretty simple. All you need to do is ask yourself – was the problem solved or not?

Some examples of remedial change include dealing with a loss of talent, providing more training for new hires, addressing customer communication issues, etc.

Yay! You’re now well-versed with all the nitty-gritty of organizational change management. But, how do you actually start the OCM process? Let’s find out.


The Process of Organizational Change Management

Step 1: Align the Change to the Business Goals.

This seems pretty obvious, right? However, many organizations miss this step! Articulating the changes that are needed isn’t enough.

You need to do an in-depth analysis of the organizational objectives and goals to ensure that the changes will actually help you grow your business – strategically, ethically, and of course, financially.


Step 2: Determine the Impact of the Change

Now that you are clear about what you want to achieve and why, it is time to determine the effect that the change will have on your organization.

Here, you need to review the impact of the change on EVERY business unit, level, individual, team, and your organization as a whole.


Step 3: Build a Communication Strategy

All the employees in your organization should be taken on the journey towards change.

A few key things that you must include in your communication strategy are: a timeline for how and when the change will be communicated, key messages, and the communication medium that you’ll be using.


Step 4: Provide Appropriate Training

It is important that your employees know that the organization will be helping them adapt to the change!

Provide training, mentoring, and coaching sessions to your employees, so that they can learn the skills and knowledge they need to operate efficiently once the change is rolled out.


Step 5: Enforce a Support Structure

To help your employees adjust to the change, both emotionally and practically, you need to provide them with a solid support structure.

It could be counseling services to help people navigate the situation, or simply a few technical workshops to help them learn new skills and techniques.


Step 6: Measure the Progress

You need to put a structure in place to measure the impact of the changes.

Moreover, keep evaluating your change management plan to determine how effective it is, and what needs to be changed. As Peter Drucker rightly said, ‘what gets measured, gets managed’.

Following a proven method for change management can actually increase your chances of success. So, let’s explore a few models that are really effective when it comes to organizational change management.

Read more: Crisis Management Plan: Definition, Types & Steps to Create!


6 Change Management Models You Can Use

1. Lewin’s Change Management Model

Named after Kurt Lewin, the originator of this model, Lewin’s Change Management Model divides the change management process into three key steps: Unfreeze, Change & Refreeze.

Unfreeze is the preparatory stage. Here, you analyze how things are currently working in order to understand what needs to be changed to get the required results.

In the Change stage, you implement the change and provide support to everyone who is impacted. Then, in the Refreeze stage, you review if the change is sticking well and how well you’ve reached your goals.


2. Kotter’s Change Management Theory

This theory was created by John Kotter, a Harvard professor and change management expert. It focuses mainly on the employees and stakeholders involved in the change process and their psychology.

He has divided it into eight steps, starting from creating a sense of urgency to encourage people, creating a change team with leaders and change agents, to maintaining the change once the project is complete.


3. ADKAR Change Management Model

Developed by Jeff Hiatt who’s the founder of Prosci, the ADKAR model constitutes five goals that you can base your change management process on – awareness, desire, knowledge, ability & reinforcement.

  • Awareness: Everyone in the organization understands that there’s a need for change.
  • Desire: Everyone involved wants the change.
  • Knowledge: Everyone has the information they need to accomplish their part of the change process.
  • Ability: All employees have the skills they need to do their part.
  • Reinforcement: Every employee and stakeholder is on top of doing things the new way.


4. The Mc-Kinsey 7-S Framework

Created by McKinsey & Company, this model involves splitting a change management program into seven core components, so that you don’t overlook any important factors.

The seven components are: change strategy, the structure of your company, business processes, shared company values, style of work, staff involved, and the skills that the staff have.


5. Bridges Transition Model

Developed by change consultant William Bridges, this model focuses on the emotional phases that people go through while they’re experiencing (and accepting) a change.

As per the model, companies should guide employees through three stages: 1) ending, losing, and letting go, 2) the neutral zone and 3) the new beginning.

  • Ending, Losing, and Letting Go: Usually, the foremost reaction to change is resistance, followed by discomfort and fear.
  • The Neutral Zone: When the change starts taking place, employees might have a hard time letting go of the old way of doing things and adapting to the new methods.
  • The New Beginning: If handled well, once the new change is in place, employees will start accepting the new methods and get comfortable with them.


6. The Nudge Theory

The nudge theory is about making your employees want the change on their own, instead of issuing top-down change orders and expecting employees to get on board with it.

This theory involves thinking about the changes that you’re planning to implement from your employees’ point of view, telling them how it’s going to benefit them, and listening to the feedback throughout the process.


Wrapping Up

It is important for companies to manage organizational change as effectively as they can. Done poorly, it can have damaging effects on the organization and its people.

Effective organizational change management helps the company run smoothly during the transition and keeps the employees and stakeholders motivated throughout.

Remember that having a plan for managing change is sometimes more important than the change itself. A solid organizational management plan can make all the difference. 🙂

Further reads: 

Knowledge Management: What is it & it’s importance!

10 Best Organizational Tools To Get Rid Of Work Chaos!

9 Risk Management Tools & Techniques You Must Try!

Mitigation Plan: What Is It & How To Create One?

Capacity Management: Definition, Importance & Process!

Stakeholder Management: Definition, Importance & Process!

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