Change is a fundamental aspect of how businesses grow, evolve, and adapt to the constantly changing business & technological environment. This is especially relevant today when organizations find themselves in an environment where not embracing change can even threaten their existence.
Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, legal obligations, and economic restrictions have led to a situation where organizational agility and resilience are of paramount importance to tackle such unprecedented changes.
The concept of organizational change management allows a business to build the culture, capability, and strategies to face the challenges posed by such changes. Efficiently navigating organizational change management can help businesses achieve their goals and ensure that they advance as per expectations.
This article will dive into the need and impact of organizational change management in more detail and discuss why it’s essential to its transformational journey.
Organizational change management is a process in which an organization systematically prepares and implements change, focusing on how its people accept and adapt to an entirely new way of doing things.
Irrespective of the nature and design of change, organizational change management aims to ensure that it moves the organization closer to achieving its objectives.
An organization can experience various types of change, all of which you can better execute through change management procedures. Having an idea of the type of change that your company requires can help you make a better decision about which change management method to use.
Below are some of the common types of organizational change -
- Developmental organizational change
As its name suggests, this type of change can include improving any existing operations within a company.
- Transitional organizational change
Transitional changes occur when the organization transitions into a completely new state of being - for example - mergers and acquisitions.
- Transformational organizational change
One of the most extreme forms of change within a business, transformational change, is when an organization decides to revise its existing way of doing things completely. For example, the introduction of new products that are different from earlier ones.
The last few years have seen change management emerging and growing from a nascent concept to an instrumental and recognized discipline.
Here is a brief timeline of how it evolved as a discipline-
At this stage, academicians started closely understanding how humans and human systems experience change.
- The 1990s
During the 1990s, change management entered the organizational and business landscape.
- The 2000s
At this stage, change management had been identified as a full-fledged discipline with added rigor and structure.
- 2021 onwards
In the future, we can expect enhanced growth of organizational maturity and individual professional development to emerge as the two key areas in change management.
- Preparing the Organization for Change
Cultural and logistical preparedness is critical for an organization to pursue and implement change successfully. Among the key focus areas in this step include -
- Helping people/employees recognize and understand the need for change.
- Lifting awareness of the challenges or problems that the organization is facing that is acting as forces of change.
- Crafting a Vision and Planning for Change
Once an organization is willing to embrace change, managers need to develop a thorough plan for its implementation. The main areas that the plan should focus on include -
- Key performance indicators: Think about how you will measure success, what metrics you need to move, and the benchmark.
- Organizational goals: What are the goals that this change will help the organization work towards?
- Stakeholders and teams: Work on project stakeholders and teams who will oversee the task of implementing change. For instance, who needs to sign off at each critical stage of the project or be responsible for its implementation?
The plan you come up with here should also account for any obstacles that could arise during the implementation process and the necessary steps to overcome them.
- Implementing the Changes
At this stage, you need to follow the steps outlined above to implement the required change. Irrespective of the type and level of change, such as strategy, structure, systems, processes, or any other aspect, it will depend on the initiative's details and specifics. The key focus areas at this stage should include -
- Empowering people/employees to take the necessary steps to achieve the desired goals
- Anticipate challenges, roadblocks and prevent or mitigate them as soon as you identify them.
- Constantly communicate the organization's vision throughout the implementation process to remind your employees about the rationale behind this change.
- Inclusion of Changes Within Company Culture and Practices
Once you have implemented this change, it is essential to prevent a reversion to the status quo. This is especially important for organizational change related to culture, strategies, processes, and workflows.
By including these changes within the company’s culture and practices, it becomes easy to stick to them without any backsliding. Everything from new organizational structures, rewards systems, and controls, should be considered as tools to ensure that the changes stick.
- Review and Analyze
To analyze a change initiative and check progress/results is as essential for success as implementing the change itself. Among the key areas to focus on here include -
- Regularly conducting analysis and review of the people and processes impacted.
- Gain valuable insights and lessons from the analysis that you can leverage in future change efforts.
Culture and capability are closely linked to each other in any organization. Any organization with a robust culture of self-development, continuous improvement, and resilience during the change can emerge stronger and improve its capability and resources.
Ensuring you adopt and implement this change effectively is key to any organizational change management process. To implement this change, the employees need to understand the rationale, see the gaps between the present and the future, and understand the implications of such gaps on both individual and organizational success.
Such robust understanding of the change management process acts as a catalyst for rapid change. It helps people envision the benefits of adopting different behaviors, which leads to the successful adoption of change at the organizational level.
As more and more organizations deal with increasing levels of change, it becomes clear that simply re-hauling of business processes repeatedly fails to deliver the required change. Further, cultural obstacles can prevent organizations from inculcating change and developing the necessary flexibility and resilience.
Organizational change management is an excellent way to navigate such challenges and emerge victorious in a rapidly changing business environment. It lets you formulate effective strategies that will enable your organization to change to survive and meet any challenge.