Change in the business environment is continuous and inevitable, and when overlooked or managed poorly, risk causing organizational tension and slowing overall progress. Change management involves transforming or transitioning an organization’s goals, processes, or technologies. Change management is a systematic process that seeks to formulate and implement strategies to influence and control change (Stouten et al., 2018). Human resources are the most strategic resources in a modern organization; therefore, change management strategies aim at helping people adapt to change. By focusing on people, processes, and the overall organization, change management increases the probability of success of business processes improves the ability to change quickly. This report aims to examine the concept of change management and provide practical recommendations for implementing change management. By studying existing literature and examining current business environmental factors, this report seeks to provide three recommendations to help the organization handle change management.
2.0 Significance of Change Management
Change management is a fundamental part of organizational management. With changes constantly occurring in the business environment, organizations must keep pace and adjust their products, people and processes accordingly. External environmental factors pose the most significant challenges since an organization has no control over them. However, a functional change management strategy can enable an organization to adjust its business model effectively and maintain success even in unprecedented change (Kroll & Pasha, 2021). Failure to recognize and adjust to changes in the external environment is a recipe for dismal business performance or ultimate failure.
Change management provides a robust and effective platform for a seamless transition when preparing for an organizational transition. In this case, an organization can utilize change management to assess the benefits of a planned change prior. Change management assists an organization in assessing the overall impact of a change, enabling a smooth transition process. Change management processes are susceptible to internal resistance. By instituting change management strategies, managers can quickly overcome this obstacle. Transparent and adequate communication, combined with sufficient employee engagement, significantly reduces the chances of changes being resisted or rejected (Stouten et al., 2018).
Change management improves organizational performance and enhances innovation. Changes in the business environment usually compel businesses to change their products, processes, or people. Making such changes enables an organization to align resources with organizational objectives and achieve efficiency (Dumas & Beinecke, 2018). In addition, change allows an organization to acquire new technologies that streamline processes to reduce wastage and improve productivity. The combined benefits of change management generally contribute significantly to reducing operating costs. Change is characterized by waste reduction, human resource optimization, effective processes, and efficient technologies. All these factors produce systematic changes, resulting in significant cost savings.
Engaging people in implementing change is critical in improving employee relations and performance. An integral characteristic of change management is engaging the very people affected by a change and assisting them in adapting accordingly (Amarantou et al., 2018). Such a process involves involving employees from the initial stage of planning change, engaging them in constant communication, and informing them about the organizational and individual benefits of the planned change. In addition, change management is achieved through cross-functional collaborations and cooperation, enhancing teamwork and cohesion in the process. Therefore, change management plays a significant role in employee engagement and boosts job morale and motivation.
Certain organizational can lead to increased anxiety or fear among managers and employees. Such an environment is characterized by inconsistencies that risk disrupting business processes or lowering performance and output quality. Effective change management is critical in reassuring employees and providing them with guarantees about job security and benefits. As a result, change management contributes to workplace stability and promotes a sense of job security. When properly managed, change management assists in overcoming organizational disruptions and stress and helps reduce or eliminate costs associated with them. According to Al-Ali (2017), change management standardizes the efficiency and consistency of allocated duties, assuring employees that their contribution is critical to organizational success. In instituting changes, change management helps employees understand their new roles and responsibilities, thereby fostering a process-led work culture.
3.0. Change Management Steps
Effective change management is a holistic process consisting of systematic and elaborate processes. Change management begins by preparing the organization for change. Successful change is dependent on an organization being ready logistically and culturally. In the initial phase, management communicates to employees the necessity for change and the expected organizational and individual benefits expected from a change. Dumas & Beinecke (2018) assert that gaining the support of employees from the beginning is critical in protecting the change management strategy from possible internal resistance in the future.
The second stage in change management involves formulating a vision and plan for change. This stage in change management involves developing comprehensive and realistic strategies for delivering change. In this stage, the management formulates strategic goals and develops key performance indicators to identify the measurable parameters of the overall change management strategy. This process is also concerned with identifying the stakeholders interested in the project and building the team to deliver the strategies (Neves et al., 2018). Finally, this stage involves identifying and agreeing on the scope of the change management strategy. Determining the project’s scope is particularly important in budgeting and allocating resources to various tasks. When planning for this phase, possible obstacles that might hamper the implementation of the project are identified, and mitigation strategies are formulated.
The third and most significant step in change management is implementing the actual changes. The management uses the plans initially drafted to implement the proposed changes (Bel et al., 2018). This stage involves several changes to several organizational elements, such as; changes to organizational structure, systems, processes, and regulations. During this process, leaders should prioritize empowering employees and team leaders to be proactive in achieving the project’s objectives. Any obstacles experienced at this stage are quickly removed, and relevant corrective actions are taken. To make this step successful, constant communication reminding all stakeholders and team members about the strategic vision of the process is critical.
The fourth step in change management involves aligning and embedding changes within company culture and practices. It is critical to prevent the organization from reversing to its initial status, especially for workflows, processes strategies, and culture changes. Without proper safeguards and sufficient planning, team members are vulnerable during the transition period and may easily get tempted to reverse to the previous state. According to Dumas & Beinecke (2018), management can use controls, reward systems, and new organizational structures to safeguard the newly instituted changes. Embedding changes into the organizational culture and practices protects the company from sliding back to the previous status quo.
The final stage in the change management process involves monitoring and reviewing progress and analyzing results. Any mechanism or process is only effective where its performance can be monitored and results analyzed. Monitoring, evaluating, and analyzing results is critical to helping leaders understand whether the change management strategy has succeeded or failed. According to Marshall (2019), evaluating and analyzing results can help leaders to identify specific weak areas and institute relevant corrective strategies to improve them. In addition, analyzing results provides critical insights that can offer valuable lessons for future projects of similar nature.
4.0 Barriers to Effective Change Management
The success of a change management strategy depends on several organizational and external factors. Formulating change management strategies alone is not adequate; effective implementation is critical to the success of change management strategy. Change management instituted without proper evaluation of the current state of an organization might not be successful. Failure to conduct a proper business environmental analysis is a barrier to the changes that an organization seeks to achieve. Any organization aiming to institute change should prioritize the analysis of its current before deciding to effect change (Stouten et al., 2018). Having a clear picture of the current organizational state eases the planning and transition to a new state.
Organizational complexity can be a significant barrier to change management. Some organizations are characterized by highly complex products, processes, or systems that are difficult to understand. The complexity factor hinders the organization’s ability to plan and implement changes. If these barriers are not broken down, the possibility of instituting meaningful change fades, and the company loses lucrative opportunities brought about by change. A company can institute mechanisms such as using a quality, diligent, and highly effective approach to change management. However, an organization must resist the temptation to effect change without breaking down the identified barriers (Dumas & Beinecke, 2018). Such action can lead to disastrous results that might leave an organization in a far, much worse state.
Inadequate consideration of organizational culture can be a significant impediment to change management. In some instances, management might decide to effect change without assessing the impact of such a move on employees. Dumas & Beinecke (2018) assert that change management decisions made without considering employees’ feelings, opinions, and expectations can result in significant resistance. Change management should be a holistic process whose decisions are people-driven and where feedback is shared openly. The most straightforward strategy to avoid internal resistance is to value all employees’ feelings, opinions, and aspirations. Managers must establish mechanisms that prevent internal resentment by prioritizing employee engagement when planning change management strategies.
Change management risks failure if planned and implemented without effective communication strategies. Organizations run with ineffective communication strategies face the most significant risk of failure of change management (Stouten et al., 2018). The common assumption among ineffective leaders is that employees will adjust automatically and quickly embrace the new development. This assumption overlooks the significance of human resources in change management and increases the chances of employee resentment to change. Simply formulating and introducing change management strategies is not sufficient; management needs to involve employees in planning strategies. In addition, management should communicate clearly to employees why change is necessary and the benefits expected from it.
Lack of employee involvement is a significant barrier to the success of change management. Human resources are the most critical organizational resources in the modern workplace environment. Modern employees are educated, exposed, and highly empowered; they demand more significant involvement in organizational decisions. A change management strategy formulated without adequately involving employees faces possible resentment or rejection by employees. Change management is a holistic process that should prioritize employee involvement from planning to implementation. Organizational change can stoke fear, anxiety, and uncertainty in employees. According to Neves et al. (2018), executive management must communicate regularly to employees and give them assurances and guarantees about their roles and job security in the new development. Inadequate communication from top management is a recipe for resentment from employees. In addition, adequate involvement of employees in change management planning and implementation fosters a work culture that encourages collaboration and cooperation. A participatory work culture characterized by collaborations and teamwork boosts job morale and motivation and promotes creativity and innovation.
Change management is a critical process in organizational management. As the company plans to implement change, this report recommends three types of change that it should consider. The management can make informed decisions after acquiring knowledge about the three types of change.
5.0.1 Developmental Change
Developmental change is concerned with improving current processes and procedures. Common examples of this kind of change include; updating the payroll system, repositioning the marketing strategies, or improving cash reporting and banking procedures (Dumas & Beinecke, 2018). This kind of change is considered the most basic and can plan for and institute other kinds of change. When planning and implementing developmental change, it is critical to keep employees informed of the planned changes and explain the expected benefits from the planned change.
Since developmental change is concerned with improving current processes and procedures, the company should provide employees with the skills to implement the changes. Employees are likely to experience less difficulty implementing the changes if adequately trained beforehand. In addition, when planning developmental change, executive management should assure employees about their commitment to protecting employees from any adverse impact of the proposed changes (Neves et al., 2018).
5.0.2 Transitional Change
This kind of change is concerned with steering an organization away from its current state to a new development focused on offering a particular solution. Transitional change is much more challenging to implement compared to developmental change (Stouten et al., 2018). The most common examples of transitional change include mergers and acquisitions, implementing new technology, or creating new products or services. When dismantling the current system to give way to new systems, the transition period can be a harrowing experience for employees. To achieve employees’ buy-in during this process, it is vital to communicate clearly about the expected impact and benefits of implementing the changes.
Technological changes are always characterized by fear of job loss; therefore, the management should provide sufficient assurance to employees about their job security. For this kind of change to be effective, staff participation in planning and implementation should be encouraged. In addition, it is critical to communicate to employees the mechanisms the company is implementing to train them on the new systems and support them through the entire change process.
5.0.3 Transformational Change
Transformational change involves radical or disruptive changes that significantly alter organizational operations or corporate culture. This kind of change might involve introducing entirely new products or services. Transformational change is usually occasioned by radical or unexpected changes in the business environment. Considering their extreme nature, transformational change can evoke deep fears among employees about job security or the practicability of the planned changes (Neves et al., 2018). Examples of transformational change include; revolutionary technologies, fundamental changes to the production process, significant organizational strategic goals, and corporate culture changes.
Transformational changes are those you make to completely reshape your business strategy and processes, often resulting in a shift in work culture. These changes may be a response to extreme or unexpected market changes. Transformational change can produce fear, doubt, and insecurity in staff and must be very well managed (Stouten et al., 2018). This kind of change usually combines both developmental and transitional change. When planning and implementing transformational change, executive management should formulate a clear strategy that states the strategic goals they are formulating. In addition, the management should provide a practical rationale for the planned changes. Transformational change is a complex process that should be implemented through elaborate and systematic strategies. Like other kinds of change, the top management should ensure they involve employees in all phases of the change management process.
This report sought to explore change management and provide three pieces of advice regarding the impending change management process. Change management is a systematic process that seeks to formulate and implement strategies to influence and control change (Stouten et al., 2018). Uncertainties and unpredictable changes characterize the current business environment. The volatile nature of the current business environment necessitates organizations to be prepared for change management. When implemented effectively, change management is critical in enabling an organization to withstand sudden changes in the business environment. Implementation of change management involves detailed steps that are highly dependent on each other.
Despite its significance, several institutional and external barriers might hamper the implementation of change management. Human resources play the most significant role in the planning and implementing change (Neves et al., 2018). Before implementing change management, organizations should recognize the possible obstacles and implement practical solutions to them. Change management takes various forms; organizations should assess their current state and business needs to determine the most pressing change required.
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