Change management is an integral part of every firm as organisational change is inevitable. Improper application of strategies during the process can lead to eventual failure or closure of a firm, as has been witnessed in the business world. Consequently, it is critical for the management of any firm to follow the proper process in implementing change to avoid dire consequences. Diverse models have been propagated to decode the appropriate change process, including Lewin’s change management model and Kottler’s change models. Both of these models recognise that change in any firm is met with resistance owing to several reasons that are explained in this study. Change management follows three stages according to Lewin’s change management model: freeze, change, and refreeze.
Cameron & Green (2015) assert that change in any organisation is faced with resistance from the workers. This calls the managers to embrace the psychodynamic approach to change in the event of managing change. The Kubler-Ross model is the best example of the process that individuals face when faced with change. The model states that if workers envision a change as unfavourable, they undergo a grief process in the order of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the denial stage, the employees or workers deny the recommended change, and they tend to stick to the status quo (McGuinn, 2019). They proceed to the anger stage where they realise that they cannot continue denying the change as it is inevitable. Consequently, they mostly exhibit frustrations and anger. They then go to the bargaining stage, whereby they gain a false hope that the incumbent change can be evaded as they look for trade-offs to remain at the status quo. The individual may then sink onto depression in the fourth stage, whereby they familiarise themselves with the change taking note of the downside it causes them while trying to accept the advantage the change brings. The final and firth stage is acceptance, where the workers show stamina emotionally, and they become more retrospective. Cameron & Green (2015) recommend change leadership whereby leaders must be aware of the different phases that individuals working under them face so that they use the right strategies to manage change effectively.
Change Management Strategies
According to Lewin’s change management model, the change process should be done in three main stages, which are: unfreeze, change and refreeze. The process helps in remodelling a firm to accommodate all the required changes. Unfreezing involves recognition or the creation of the need for change. In this stage, the management is concerned with preparing the firm to accept the need for change at whatever level it is needed. Creation of awareness among workers is essential so that nothing eventually comes to them abruptly as that would yield more resistance. The leaders in this stage are expected to manage the doubts and concerns of the workers regarding the change as change is naturally met with resistance, as shown in the Kubler Ross model above Cameron & Green (2015). Unfreezing stage entails preparing the workers to see and accept the need for the change. This stage requires the upper management to fully engage in supporting the workers to understand and see the need for change. Some of the information which may need to be communicated and made clear at this stage includes low sales, poor financial achievements, negative surveys from clients, or data that is clear to all that a change is needed. At this point, the aspect of questioning the current culture, values, behaviours, and attitudes is vital to modify the foundation to ensure that the firm does not collapse (McGuinn, 2019). The second stage of the Lewin’s change management model is called change. This is the stage in which the management begins to resolve any uncertainty that was created in the first stage of the change process. The management also looks into new strategies in which they can do things in the firm. People begin coming on board as they envision the change, albeit this happens gradually. The gradual nature of the process could be explained by the Kubler-Ross grief process model, whereby employees are still getting used to the change while still trying to figure it out. Burke (2021) states that the process of transition is not flawless since most people take time to embrace the changes, and this leadership must be patient and supportive while ensuring the workers take part in the process positively. Communication is highlighted as one of the key tools that the leadership should use in this stage, whereby they often reassure the people, empower them to take positive action, and dissipate all negative rumours. This stage allows the leadership to use their experiences and learn from them, as described in the Kolb’s learning theory. The final stage of the change process, as per the Lewin’s change management model, is the refreeze stage, which only begins when all parties involved are actively involved in attaining the new desired structure. Some of the significant signals that this process has taken shape are a stable working environment and constant understanding of the job descriptions and specifications in attaining the new vision. Clearly, the clear engagement of all workers shows that they understand the vision and are willing to work towards its attainment for the betterment of the economy. The leadership is faced with the need to offer ample support, mainly in terms of training to the workers. It’s impossible to attain the new state with the old mindset, thus the need for new skills and strategies to the workers. The changes are then sustained in the firm only via the deliberate effort of all workers. After a while, these are incorporated into the corporate culture making these embedded in the fabric of the organisation even in later times.
Change management is a process that can be explained using several theories and models. However, most of these all indicate that change is a process that is faced with resistance requiring the management to actively involve and communicate with the workers for an easy transition. As described in the Lewin’s change management model, the process takes three stages which are: unfreeze, change, and refreeze, respectively. Taking time in the first two stages helps the workers get through the grief process of change that is explained in the Kubler-Ross model.
Burke, L., (2021). Restructuring: the game change. American Enterprise Institute.
Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2015). Making sense of change management: A complete guide to organisational change models, tools, and techniques (4th Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Kogan Page.
McGuinn, P., (2019). Leading Change. Centre for American Progress.