Humans are resistant to change. We take comfort in the rhythm or the motions of everyday life. An example that might hit close to home was when Facebook changed its layout in 2011 to include the hideous ticker on everyone’s feed and the uproar that ensued. It is important to note, however, that humans are extremely adaptable when supported through times of change. In a nutshell, change management describes the process of preparing, equipping, and supporting individuals to facilitate organizational success. It provides a structured approach for supporting individuals who are moving from their current state to their future state in the organization.

3-Phase Process for Organizations

The Prosci 3-Phase Process accurately defines the steps to change management:

  1. Prepare Approach
  2. Manage Change
  3. Sustain Outcomes

In the first phase, organizations should ask themselves – What are we as an organization trying to achieve? Which of our employees have to change their job scopes? What do we have to do to achieve greater success?

When managing change, the organizations must then ask – What will we do to prepare, support, and engage with clients? Are our performance trackers indicative of the changes we’ve made? Are there finer adjustments we can make to improve?

Finally, to sustain outcomes, organizations should ask themselves – Now that the changes have been made, are we happy with our performance? What do we need to ensure the changes remain? Who will assume ownership of these changes and sustain them?

Importance of Change Management

So why is change management so important? There are numerous reasons and answers to this question, but here are the big three:

  • Organizational change happens individually
  • Ignoring individual change is costly
  • It increases the likelihood of success!

When you think about organizational change, do you think about company mergers or acquisitions and the like? Yes, these are organizational changes. But, if we delve deeper into it, organizational change only occurs when individuals in the company change. The cumulative individual change in any organization is what leads to organizational change, when team members start doing their jobs differently. If individuals do not make changes to their day-to-day work, the organizational transformation will not deliver results.

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Additionally, not supporting your individuals during times of change has numerous consequences – tangible and intangible.

  • Stress, confusion, and miscommunication increase
  • Productivity declines on a larger scale for a longer duration than necessary
  • End users or customers feel the effects of your organizational change when it should be invisible to them
  • Valued employees leave your organization
  • Operational costs increase to offset the decline in overall productivity

Studies on Change Management

There are numerous studies conducted on the efficacy of change management. One example would be Prosci’s “Best Practices in Change Management.” The study came to the conclusion that 93% of participants with excellent change management met or exceeded objectives, while only 15% with poor change management met or exceeded objectives.

In other words, projects that adapted these approaches were six times more likely to meet objectives than those that poorly adjusted their practices. What may be most enlightening about the research is that poor change management correlates with better success than applying none at all.

What can you do to become more effective in change management? Investing the time and energy to manage the people side of your organizational efforts pays off in the end in terms of your effort’s success and avoiding the numerous costs that plague poorly managed change.

How do you optimize your own change management?