Nothing works without change-management (CM in short). While change processes alternated with consolidation phases before the digital revolution, change is now part of the daily agenda. Nevertheless, only four percent of employees consider their employer to be ready for a transformation. That is the result of the 2019 Change Fitness Study by Mutaree. Reason enough to take another look at change processes.
Change Management Definition
The Gabler economic lexicon describes change management as the continuous adaptation of corporate strategy and organizational structures to current external conditions. Basically, CM can take place in two ways: as a reaction to change or through planned control.
Reactive change management: Initiation of change processes due to legal requirements, global trends, changing competitive conditions and technological progress.
Active change management: factors influencing the company are monitored and emerging changes lead to a timely adaptation process.
The 5 change management phases
Phase 1: Need for change
In the first phase, the need for change is identified. Possible indicators are, for example, when competitors rely on new technologies or reorganize their business model.
Phase 2: Define goals
Once the decision to change has been made, the second phase is to define goals. Issues such as possible entry into new markets or securing the current market position play a role here. The next step is to analyze which structural adjustments are required to achieve the goals.
Phase 3: The planning phase
Once the goals have been set, the organization enters the third phase, the planning phase. At this point, concrete planning steps are taken:
- How much financial resources does the company need to invest in the change?
- Which work processes are affected by the change and require adaptation?
- What kind of training will the affected personnel need to implement the change process?
- How will employees be involved?
Phase 4: Concrete implementation
The concrete implementation takes place in phase four. This is accompanied by the practical test and new findings from everyday workflow into ongoing optimization processes.
Phase 5: Consolidation and optimization of the change
The conclusion of the change project, phase five consists of consolidating and optimizing the change. Regular feedback loops that collect and consider feedback and experiences from all participants increase the success of change processes.
In most cases, this phase uncovers further need for change, for example at interfaces.
Change management methods
Change processes differ in terms of their long-term nature and how intensively staff are involved.
The involvement of employees in the change process also depends on the underlying change management models. Well-known models include the concept of the learning organization, design thinking or Kurt Lewin’s traditional 3-phase model.
The following methods are available for selection:
- Arrangement: the change process is specified from above; the staff implements it. Basically, this approach is considered outdated. In crisis phases it is temporarily extremely helpful, longer-term changes are rarely achieved with it.
- Project management: This often-used approach focuses on structures and processes. Due to its mechanistic perspective, it rarely leads to long-term success.
- Training and ad hoc measures (best practice, workshops): Both methods can bring more drive into the change process in the short term. At the same time, success is difficult to plan.
- Classic change-management and change agents: This combination shows the greatest success in practice. On the one hand, the entire process is divided into sub-processes that are comprehensively moderated and supported. At the same time, change agents work on the change process with the affected employees over the longer term.
Change-management in human resources
HR managers play an important role in change management. They are the ones who ensure that people are brought along. They implement new management techniques, accompany the feedback loops and build an adequate evaluation system.
To create resources for these tasks, digital change management tools and HR tools can help. Thus, routine activities can be automated and the HR department can become a pioneer of digital change processes.
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