Change is a constant factor in the business world. From company-wide reorganization to the introduction of new projects, business professionals should expect to encounter a variety of changes in the workplace. That’s why adaptability is a critical skill set — business leaders have to understand how to manage and implement change effectively so that all stakeholders benefit and can see the value in organizational shifts.
Change management is a method of preparing individual employees, departments and even entire companies for necessary improvements. With the introduction of new technology and regulations, along with variables like cost cutting and new job requirements, there are many elements that might spark the need for change. When change management is implemented successfully, it’s easier to maintain employee morale and facilitate successful communication between company leaders and employees. This, in turn, ensures less turnover and other negative ramifications of mismanaging change at the corporate level.
The Three Levels of Change Management
There are three levels of change management that are relevant to business professionals: individual change, organizational change and enterprise change. Each requires a particular set of skills in order to execute improvements in a way that doesn’t sacrifice morale or productivity.
- Individual change: With the right support, employees will feel prepared and ready for changes. When practicing effective change management, business professionals should carefully craft the messaging they share with fellow employees. In addition, they should pay close attention to whether the change will require employees to have new and different skill sets and make professional development available, if so. Individual change management “draws on disciplines like psychology and neuroscience to apply actionable frameworks to individual change,” according to Prosci, a leading change management firm.
- Organizational change: Organizational or initiative change management takes project-level shifts into consideration. It gives businesses the tools to support their entire organizations when new initiatives are introduced. The first step is to identify the groups that will need to change the most. Then, create a customized plan to ensure employees and departments receive the leadership and coaching they need to make the transition.
- Enterprise change: Enterprise change management focuses on change at the largest level, providing “competitive differentiation and the ability to effectively adapt to the ever-changing world,” Prosci explains. Preparing for enterprise-level change involves constantly reinforcing roles, structures, processes, projects and leadership competencies so that change is not a disruption, but rather a benefit. It is an element of company culture that starts from the top down, so that both leaders and employees embrace and respond to change. This enables organizations to more easily respond to market changes and embrace valuable strategic shifts with relative ease.
The MOC Process
The management of change (MOC) process was codified and refined by John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and a world-renowned change expert. In his 1995 book, Leading Change, Kotter outlined the change management process and broke it down into eight steps:
- Create urgency with an idea for positive change. Helping your coworkers or employees understand the need for change is the first step in ensuring they embrace it. Tell them why the change is happening and what problems it will solve.
- Find company stakeholders to advocate for change. The best way to ensure change happens is to get stakeholders on board — but this doesn’t mean working only with leadership. Instead, reach out to key players from different departments and teams to share your plan.
- Create a blueprint of the initiative. A clear vision shows your coworkers that you’ve thought this through and understand the how instead of just the why. They’ll feel more confident knowing there is a solid plan in place.
- Communicate the vision of change. Create strong messaging around the shift, being sure to highlight the benefits and what problems it will solve. You can do this through meetings, face-to-face conversations or even email.
- Remove barriers to change. Now is the time to address any roadblocks or issues that stand in the way of change. There may be individuals who don’t see the change as necessary — this is your chance to convince them.
- Accomplish short-term goals. Achieving wins early in the process will build confidence in your plan and can also motivate your team members.
- Build on initial changes. After each “win,” it’s important to establish how it was accomplished and why the new process worked. You should also note any areas for improvement during this stage. Next, set more goals and begin working toward them.
- Weave the change into the corporate culture. Finally, you’ll need to make the change a core part of your organization. “Your corporate culture often determines what gets done, so the values behind your vision must show in day-to-day work,” MindTools explains.
Understanding the nuances of change management is a vital skill for business leaders. Virginia Wesleyan University’s online MBA gives professionals the advanced skills they need to innovate and create positive change at the organizational and enterprise levels. With coursework in operations management, leadership, policy integration and more, graduates of this program are prepared for today’s dynamic global marketplace. Discover how our MBA can make a difference in your career today.