There is no denying the fact that change is inevitable, especially when it comes to a business environment. Given the ever-changing economical and logistical challenges and how quickly present events shift, industries progress, and new and improved technologies emerge, practically every organization is in a constant state of flux nowadays. For a business to survive and remain competitive, it needs to grow, and this requires embracing organizational changes to avoid stagnation.
However, dealing with change is seldom easy and straightforward and often leads to transformations in management structures, strategies, processes, products, raw materials, and the use of technology. Managing changes and learning to adapt to them takes time, effort, training and energy. The more complex, bigger, and more established a business is, the more challenging it can be to implement modifications and disrupt the status quo.
A strong, structured, and defined change management strategy must be developed and executed properly to ensure a smooth transition to the desired state of business. These tried-and-trusted models are designed to help organizations navigate chaotic transitions and guide their staff into adopting new processes and maximizing business growth.
Change managers or change agents are individuals who are responsible for coordinating such changes in an organization. If this role interests you, Suffolk University’s AACSB MBA online program is an excellent way to prepare. The MBA online program focuses on the current issues and critical skills shaping global business.
What are Change Management Models?
Change management models are methodologies, concepts, theories, and strategies designed to provide guidelines to help companies understand how they should prepare, manage, support, and equip themselves to adapt to modifications within the organization effectively. Internal and external aspects usually drive organizational change.
This framework aims to help everyone involved get accustomed to new changes, systems, and processes; navigate the transformation process; and ensure that these changes are accepted by everyone and put into practice as the new norm to promote the organization’s growth.
A change management model allows organizations to tackle common obstacles and evade the pitfalls many companies fall into. Following a good model can also help the organization and all its members to understand the desired point of success, progress, and development.
Every business has its own unique goals. These change initiatives are used for varying reasons and may depend on the company’s objectives, whether it is making a company-wide change, increasing efficiency across processes, implementing new technology, onboarding new hires, or growing the organization.
Additionally, these frameworks can be used for new employees who need to adjust to new work environments, rules, and processes. Tenured employees can even use them to learn and understand new ways of performing their functions.
Change in an organization can be challenging and uncomfortable for many employees, but achieving growth is also necessary. Successful change initiatives enhance business processes, increase employee productivity, and allow businesses to adapt to future change.
What is the Importance of Change Management Models?
Change management models teach companies about the best practices to manage and handle transitions of all shapes and sizes effectively. Organizations can either select one model or employ a combination of a few of them.
Transitional projects are often big, costly, rocky, and complicated because people are often hesitant to change their ways. This reluctance leads to dampened productivity, increased stress, and decreased morale. A trustworthy change management model keeps businesses viable and helps them respond to industry trends and shifting markets. Moreover, these models provide the necessary framework to prompt, implement, and evaluate change so that all stakeholders and employees can stay assured in the face of uncertainty.
A study cited by Harvard Business Review found that around 70% of all organizational change initiatives fail, typically because of poor planning and implementation of the wrong change management approach. That’s why a business needs to choose the right change management framework to plan its initiatives properly.
Types of Change Management Models
There are various change management models, and each has a unique approach to fit certain types of organizations’ transformation, whether it is large-scale or small-scale. Before going ahead and adopting one of the numerous change management approaches and models, a company must figure out why it needs the changes and how these transformations will benefit it.
Here are some of the most effective change management models that businesses can employ to overcome organizational changes.
Kotter’s Change Management Theory is among the most popular and adopted change management models globally. After observing more than 100 organizations in flux, a professor at Harvard Business School and change management expert, John P. Kotter, devised what is now known as Kotter’s Change Management Model.
This theory primarily focuses on the people experiencing a change process and their psychology rather than the changes themselves.
The model is divided into the following eight phases, each of which focuses on the employees’ response to change.
- Create a sense of urgency
- Build a guiding coalition
- Form a strategic vision and initiative
- Communicate the vision clearly
- Enable action by removing barriers
- Focus on short-term wins
- Maintain momentum
- Anchor changes in corporate culture after the initial project is complete
Kotter’s change management model builds momentum behind the change, ensuring that everyone understands what these transitions will bring about and that it is seen as a great opportunity rather than a problem. The steps outlined in Kotter’s change management process skillfully turn possibly resistant individuals into receptive ones through teamwork, transparency and trust.
Developed by physicist and social scientist Kurt Lewin, Lewin’s Change Model is the simplest and quite possibly the most powerful change management model. It remains relevant to this day despite its origin in the 1950s, primarily because of its simplicity and effective structure.
Using an ice cube metaphor, Lewin’s Change Model suggests that organizational change management can be broken down into the following three smaller and more manageable phases:
- Unfreeze: This is the initial phase where the planning and preparation take place before any changes are implemented. During this stage, most people resist change, and the organization should communicate with the employees and explain the need for change. The primary objective of this step is to overcome employees’ resistance to the change initiative.
- Change: The real changes are put into action during this phase. Its completion can take a while as employees usually need time to adjust to new developments, processes, and happenings. Good leadership, effective communication, and reassurance are crucial at this stage to guide the staff through the transition and overcome resistance on their part.
- Refreeze: This is the last stage of Lewin’s Change Model, where the new processes, behaviors, and goals are accepted and implemented by the employees. A new normal sets in, the employees’ confidence rebounds, and the company returns to a stable routine again. It is also important to ensure that the change is incorporated into the organization’s corporate culture even after the change management objectives are achieved.
ADKAR Change Management Model
The ADKAR change management model is a people-focused approach that relies heavily on employee feedback and input. Designed by Jeffery Hiatt, the founder of Prosci, this framework is a bottom-up model focusing on the individuals behind the change. Although this method focuses on business-oriented objectives, it also enables employees to adapt to change and process the transformation via clearly defined steps that ensure that they understand, accept, support, and believe in the changes.
The ADKAR model is ideal for transitions intended for small, incremental shifts over time. These changes are gradual, moderate and orderly so everyone involved has a chance to adjust before the next wave of modifications strikes. It also provides the capability to identify why changes are not working as expected and delaying results.
ADKAR is an acronym where each letter represents a goal that the organization needs to achieve. According to the ADKAR change model, these are the goals that can be used to effectively plan changes at the individual and organizational levels:
- Awareness (of the need for change and why it is required)
- Desire (to participate in the transition and support it)
- Knowledge (on how to change)
- Ability (to bring about the changes)
- Reinforcements (to solidify the changes and make them stick)
The McKinsey 7-S Model
The McKinsey 7S change model is more complex compared to some of the others. However, this complexity may be ideal and necessary when implementing organization-wide modifications.
This model was coined in the 1980s by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, who were consultants working for McKinsey & Company at the time. Rather than focusing on organizational structure, this model highlights the need for coordination and maps out interconnected factors that affect an organization’s ability to change. It was developed to assist leaders in ensuring the company is set up to grow, succeed on all fronts, and adjust to the domino effect of change.
According to the McKinsey 7S change model, the following are the seven fundamental components of every organization:
- Shared values
The first three elements – strategy, structure, and systems – are considered “hard” elements. This means that they are easier to identify and control since management’s decisions influence them. The remaining elements are considered “soft” and are subjective and difficult to describe and change as company culture influences them.
These components are interconnected in the sense that if change is introduced in one element, the change will ripple out and impact the others. These elements are assessed to identify how they influence each other so that weaknesses can be identified. Organizations tend to employ the 7S change model when they enforce changes and want to align departments and processes.
The Nudge Theory is a change management framework that subtly nudges employees in the direction of the desired change and helps them see its need themselves rather than enforcing it. American behavioral economists Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler presented the Nudge Theory in their book Nudge – Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, which was published in 2008.
These indirect suggestions are much more impactful than strict and forced changes or penalizing non-compliance. In this way, individuals feel like they are the ones in control of managing the transition and are part of the process.
These are the basic principles of the Nudge Theory model:
- Clearly define the desired changes
- Empathize with the employees’ point of view
- Present evidence to indicate the best solutions
- Represent the change as an option
- Gather feedback from employees
- Limit possible obstacles
- Maintain momentum and solidify change with short-term wins
Using the Nudge Theory, many organizations have found success in encouraging more employees to contribute to their plans for retirement. Moreover, governments have taken advantage of this model to encourage more individuals to participate in organ donation.
Kübler-Ross Five-Stage Change Management Model
The Kübler-Ross Change Curve is known for being based on the five stages of grief, which was initially defined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book On Death & Dying.
This management model is 100% employee-oriented. It recognizes that individuals react emotionally to change and the various stages they go through during this process. As a result, leaders can empathize with their employees, anticipate how they will react, and better equip themselves to handle and address their reactions and responses as they go through each stage.
In addition to helping employees accept and adapt to organizational changes both physically and emotionally, this model can be applied to other scenarios, such as change in work, less serious health issues, and job loss.
The following five stages of grief are associated with this change management model:
It is possible for people to move through these stages in random order and even repeat some phases when dealing with organizational change. Ideally, a business should devise its change approach in such a way that it addresses its employees’ feelings head-on and prevents them from experiencing the worst of them. As a result, employees will feel that their emotions are valued and acknowledged throughout their journey toward acceptance.