Everything changes but change itself ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable. The question is, how should one prepare for change and deal with it as it occurs? Change can be divided into four categories:
- The Change Process;
- The Impact of Change;
- Resistance to Change;
- Change Management Techniques.
The Change Process
In the change process, there are both external and internal changes that take place. Let’s take a closer look:
External changes are changes in the environment that affects the organisation that is often unpredictable and unforeseen.
These changes that take place within the organisation and could affect the organisation in any or all of these ways:
- Product or service;
- Technology used;
- People employed;
- Company structure
The Impact of Change
Unless the change is properly managed, it could have the effect of:
- Decreasing morale, motivation and commitment;
- Creating internal conflict;
- Increase in uncertainty and stress.
Some people see change as a challenge and welcome it, while most people tend to resist it.
Resistance to Change
Why do people resist change?
- Fear of the unknown;
- People have a preference for stability;
- People are creatures of habit;
- People enjoy conformity;
- Change can create a threat to economic interests or personal prestige;
- If not communicated properly, change causes misunderstanding;
- If not communicated properly, change creates different perceptions.
Change Management Techniques
To manage change effectively, you need to make yourself completely familiar with the particular change to be made, so you can:
- Understand the basic mechanisms of change;
- Develop an effective change programme;
- Analyse the forces affecting change;
- Overcome resistance to change;
- Gain commitment to change;
- Accelerate the pace of change.
A Change Programme
Any programme that involves change should include these processes:
- Setting of goals;
- Defining the future state within the organisation as a result of change;
- Diagnosing the present state of affairs in relation to these goals;
- Defining the transition state activities to meet the future state;
- Developing strategies and action plans for managing this transition.
Analysing the Forces Affecting Change
People wanting a change should understand the forces that drive it:
- Likely to resist changes, as well as
- Creating change
This process is sometimes called force field analysis and it involves:
- Analysing those restraining or driving forces that will affect the transition;
- Assessing which of these driving or restraining forces are critical;
- Taking steps to increase the critical driving force and decrease the critical restraining forces.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
People come to accept change in three ways:
The individual accepts the change because he sees no alternative and realises he has to.
The individual believes in the new opinions and actions he is expected to adopt.
The individual accepts the change because it is in accordance with his or her own set of values.
Resistance to change will be less forceful if the person implementing this change process:
- Allows those affected by the change to accept the project as one they have chosen for themselves and not one imposed on them;
- Has the obvious and whole-hearted support of management;
- Is seen to be reducing rather than increasing present burdens and workloads;
- Offer the kind of new experience that is o interest to participants;
- Make participants feel that their autonomy, independence and security are not threatened;
- Allow participants to diagnose the problems on a joint basis;
- Provide the opportunity for discussions and agreement by means of group decisions;
- Ensure those who accept changes, understand those who feel they are affected by it;
- Recognise that new ideas are likely to be misinterpreted and making provision for discussion of reactions to proposals.
Gaining Commitment to Change
Commitment to change will be great if those affected by the change are allowed and encouraged to participate as fully as possible in planning and implementing it.
Accelerating the Pace of Change
- Agree to firm objectives and stick to it;
- Determine what the success criteria are to be;
- Provide an environment that offers support;
- Deliver a form of visionary leadership which inspires people to be bold and innovative;
- Ensure the full collaboration and co-operation of all the resources within the business;
- Generate and foster widespread attitude among all employees. You can do this by:
- Conducting personal backings and support for proposed changes;
- Conducting workshops;
- Introducing educational and training programmes.