Change, as they say is the only thing that is constant. Even in business, change is inevitable and sometimes a natural process that could even give the company a chance to grow and improve even more. However, when change is not managed, it could be overwhelming not only to the management but also to employees and other parties directly involved with the company. Thus, change management was created to facilitate change within the company.
Defining Change Management
But before we determine the various advantages and importance of change management, we need to first define what change management is. According to Wikipedia, change management is the process or approach of facilitating the transition of individuals, groups or teams and the whole organization into a pre-determined, better future state. Change management covers the environment where the change will occur, the people involved or affected by the change, what the change is as well as the reason for the change, and the necessary steps or the process in facilitating the said change. In a sense, it covers a very broad scope, affecting the whole organization. Thus, it must be well handled or managed.
If your company does not have a solid approach to changes in your organization, there are available change management training programs as well as change management certification trainings that could help a specific team or the head of the company with change management. Learning the scope, approaches and the change management process isn’t that hard. Readiness and an open mind are what the company will need.
Determining the Change Management Plan and Process
We all know that planning is needed in almost everything if you want the outcome to be what you have foreseen. Planning will help you prepare and be receptive of whatever the result is going to be. Planning would be more comprehensive, less confusing and on point when you go through a process. Processes make sure that you don’t miss a step which is a fool-proof way of ensuring that you get to the end result as planned. Going through each step of the process will also give you a feeling of satisfaction. It also allows you to evaluate every step, making sure that you did it right. If not, you can always go back to that specific step and need not to do everything all over again. Planning and following a process is in effect helping you to do the task as accurately and less time-consuming as possible.
There are also various approaches to change management. Some go through a very lengthy process which could be exhausting in the long run; others opt for a straight-forward process which is easy to apply and digest. Below is a sample of a 3-stage change management process that you may also apply within your own company.
Change Preparation – This stage is very crucial as failure to do it properly will put the following stages in jeopardy. In this stage, you will be doing mostly conceptualization. Here, you need to define your strategy or choose one, choose a team to handle the change within your company and assess whether the afore-mentioned tasks are done well before you move on to the next stage.
In defining your strategy, you have to remember that there are factors too that need consideration. The following are your criteria in choosing the right strategy for implementing change within your company:
• The Degree of Change – This determines the scope of the change. Will it be company-wide, department-wide or just within a team?
• The Resistance – Are there certain factors that make change difficult to facilitate? Are there individuals who are not very receptive of the said change?
• The Cultural Diversity – Determine if there are various cultures within your company. A single strategy may not work or even offensive to some groups when there is a diverse population within your company.
• Stakes – What is at stake in pursuing for change within the company? Are the stakes high enough that you need to be power-coercive? High stakes can be a double-edged sword.
• Duration – How long will the whole process take? Determining a specific schedule for some goals to be achieved and reviewed is a must in change management. It is an important aspect that you should also make known to your employees.
• Knowledge – Knowledge or absence thereof when it comes to change management requires varying strategies.
• Dependence – Who is more dependent towards another, the company or the employees? When employees are more dependent, it would be easier to facilitate change and to let them abide. When the company on the other hand is more dependent, it might limit its command and choose a strategy that is not too coercive on the part of the employees.
Change Management Proper – This is the stage where the change management team or change leaders start with the actual and specific plans. This stage will also signal that you must take action and execute those plans.
Change Reinforcement – After Stage 2 is done, it is time to gather feedback and analyze whether or not change is effective and embraced by everyone. Determining resistance is done in this stage. Stage 3 is also an appreciation change. Recognize and celebrate success in areas where your plans have succeeded and determine reinforcement measures in areas where change is resisted.
Importance of Change Management
Change management need not to be implemented in a company when it will not yield any benefits. Companies do exactly just that in order to reap the benefits of change management to their business: What are these benefits? Read on:
• It Makes the Company Ready for Further Changes. – When you have change management in place within your company, there is no need to fear of whatever change that may come. Change management makes your company ready.
• It Helps Stakeholders Understand Change. – Change management makes it a point that stakeholders understand why changes are made and the necessary process it will demand. Change can be uncomfortable at first, but when managed is in fact a chance to make things better in the workplace.
• It Cuts Costs. – Change when not managed can create a disturbance which can hamper the company’s productivity. Production may be halted which could be drastic to the company’s sales and revenue generation. With proper management, change can be facilitated without incurring costs or limiting production.
• It Aides Productivity. – With change management, employees are better guided and when training is a part of the said change, productivity is almost guaranteed. Change management also measures performance and reception to change which will make everybody do his part.
• It Will Help Correct Mistakes and Recognize Improvement. – One stage of change management focuses on reinforcement and evaluation. If something comes short of the standards set by the management, it needs to be reinforced until it lives up to or exceeds expectations. Recognition and incentives may be offered to individuals or teams that have shown excellence or improvement within the company.
• It Helps Control Employee Turnover. – A high employee turnover will eventually be drastic to the health of the company. Recognition of employee efforts, which is part of change management is an effective strategy in keeping workers happy and motivating them to do more.
• It Improves Company Processes and Even Facilities. – One common change that is highly recognized by many companies especially in the age of computers is literacy of technology. For instance, when company processes are computerized, it will make the work faster, more efficient and with minimal mistakes.
• It Facilitates Effective Use of Resources. – When company resources are used properly, business will limit costs and maximize productivity. Change management determines which part or the company needs improvement and which doesn’t. In effect, it can allocate more resources on areas that need improvement and limit in areas which do not.