February 2, 2022

Change management in companies: issues and methods



5 min reading

Since 2020, our habits have been shaken up. So how do we implement change management?

Transformation, resilience, adaptability... Since the arrival of Covid-19, these words are on everyone's lips. It has to be said that, since 2020, our habits have been turned upside down. Certain new practices, such as teleworking, have been imposed on companies, sometimes involving rapid digitalisation. In such a context, good change management is essential. But how do you implement change management in your company? The answer in this article.

1. Fear of change is a human reflex

Being afraid of change is human. This phenomenon even has a name: " Status Quo Bias ", a cognitive bias that leads us to systematically favour our current situation over a new one.

Yes, if change is frightening, it's because it takes us out of our comfort zone, upsets our habits... By reflex, we first associate change with danger, which explains the famous " resistance to change ".

🔎 According to Professors Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), the individual's fear of change can be explained by several factors:

  • Parochialism, which pushes the individual to favour his or her own interest to the detriment of the collective;
  • Lack of confidence ;
  • Fear of not being good enough;
  • A different perception of change between employees and managers.

The psychologist Kurt Lewin, an expert on group dynamics, states that the reluctance to change is explained by the attachment of individuals to group norms. According to him, in order to achieve collective change, it is essential to modify these norms.

📌 To go further, discover the 6 key steps to create a strong corporate culture

2. What is change management?

Change management " refers to all the actions taken by a company to facilitate a reorganisation project.

What is the aim of change management? To remove the danger dimensionas much as possible as this is naturally associated with change by employees.  

To carry out an effective change management strategy, the company must follow a precise methodology.

💡 A company may wish to change in different ways. An example of change management in a company: the reorientation of part of the company's activity, the digitization of working methods, an evolution in management, the development of new skills, etc. This transformation can be desired or undergone by the company.  

3. Why adopt a change management process?

As you can see, resistance is an integral part of change. Yet change is necessary for any company, especially when it wants to innovate! According to an IFOP study carried out in 2016, 93% of employees surveyed said they had experienced at least one change over the last three years.

Fortunately, this resistance to change can be overcome, with the right methodology.

3.1 Why support change in your company?

According to the American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, both the loss of a loved one and a major professional change can trigger a phase of grief. In other words, we all acclimatise to change by going through different phases ranging from denial to acceptance.

The problem is that each human being has his or her own representation of change. We do not all react in the same way to change, depending on our capacity to adapt, our agility, our soft skills, our age, our experience, etc. In order to facilitate the mourning stage and quickly reach the final acceptance phase, managers must accompany their teams in this process.

💡 Let's not forget that change can sometimes affect the ego of some employees (leading them to question their work).

3.2 Change management: 5 key issues  

Getting employees to buy into the change. The adoption of a new tool or a new way of working is not worth anything in itself. They are useful if they are adopted by the teams.

Reduce the costs of adopting change. Yes, every transformation has a cost. Ensuring the adoption of change by employees allows on the one hand to optimise the return on investment (ROI) of the operation, but also to ensure the adhesion of employees (demotivated and/or disengaged employees would have a direct impact on the productivity of the company).

Integrate the human dimension into change management. Not taking into account the human complexities related to the perception of change can lengthen the adoption of change by employees, and even lead to demotivation.

Maximise the long-term adoption of change. As Kurt Lewin explained, it is essential to embed new practices in the culture of the organisation if change is to be sustainable.

Keep the motivation and collaborative spirit of teams intact, sometimes accepting that accommodation to change takes time. Rushing teams can lead to stress, fatigue, demotivation and even burnout...

©️ Prosci

According to Prosci, when teams are supported by change management, they are six times more likely to achieve their objectives, five times more likely to meet their deadlines and twice as likely to meet their budgets. They are also more likely to achieve the results related to human factors (what is known in the field of change management as the " People-Dependent ROI ").

4. Methodologies for managing change in business

As mentioned earlier, resistance to change was the subject of many theories, throughout the 20th century.

👉 According to the ADKAR model established by the American company Prosci, good change management within a company can have a direct impact on project performance .

The ADKAR model is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.

Awareness: This is the awareness that enables teams to understand the importance of change. Yes: all employees in a company must be aware of the need for change in order to adopt it.

Desire: The will to take part in change. There is no change without involvement!

Knowledge: This refers to the knowledge and skills needed by teams to implement change properly.

Ability: the ability to deploy change. When the change is too great, companies can call on one or more agile coaches, trainers specialised in transition, true agents of organisational change .

Reinforcement: Reinforcing the adoption of change to ensure its sustainability.

The psychologist Kurt Lewin, for his part (we told you about it above), has also structured a model of change management. Like a block of ice (which must be allowed to melt in order to reshape it), change can be broken down, according to Kurt Lewin, into three stages:

  1. Unfreeze: This period of questioning has only one objective: to make the teams aware that change is absolutely necessary. This is the famous awareness found in the ADKAR model!

  2. Change: Once the notion of necessity is understood by the teams, change can then be accepted by the teams. The established order, which was previously fixed, becomes malleable. During this learning period, the teams gradually become familiar with the new operating methods.
  3. Refreeze: Once the changes have been adopted, it is essential to consolidate them in order to ensure their sustainability.  

4. What are the stages of organisational change in business?

By analysing the main theories of organisational change in business, eight main recommendations for good change management can be derived.

4.1. Defining an objective

Every change starts with a problem that you want to solve. The first thing to do? Clearly and explicitly define the reason for the change. What motivates your company to adopt a new working method or tool, for example? This objective may be financial (increase in turnover, etc.) or extra-financial (well-being at work, increased productivity, employee satisfaction, etc.).

To be relevant, the definition of this objective necessarily impliesauditing the current situation in order to highlight its limitations.

💡 To remember

A relevant change management takes into account the specificities of the company (culturally, organisationally, etc.). Change management is not carried out in the same way in a start-up where the average age of employees is 28 and in a large industrial group where the average age is 40!

Consequently, the conditions for implementing change must be adapted to the context of the organisation.

Manager discussing the management change project with his team

4.2. Establish a change management plan

Once you have clearly defined your needs, it is time to set up change management . To do this, do not hesitate to identify one or more change managers within the company (or to call on outside help).  

Also think about determining in advance all the communication and training actions, as well as all the HR actions that will be necessary to support the teams during this change management.

Another good idea is to identify possible friction points beforehand - so that you know how to react when the time comes!

4.3 Informing

Communicate sincerely with your teams, explaining why the change is necessary. Do not hesitate to remove any ambiguity by being more transparent. For example, you can explain the causes of the change, the action plan you have chosen to put in place, the different stages that will punctuate this change management, etc. Give meaning to the change management project (by answering the why, how, when, etc. questions).

To communicate with your teams in complete transparency, don't hesitate to use a solution like Mozzaik365. Integrated with SharePoint, our tool allows you to create fluid and engaging intranets, simplifies content and knowledge sharing, gives employees a voice, etc.  

📌 To go further, discover 5 good reasons to create your intranet based on Microsoft

4.4 Training employees

As we saw in our previous review of change theories, any change requires skills and/or knowledge. Think about training your teams to give them the means to carry out this change correctly! For example, if you want to roll out the use of a new tool, it is essential to train your staff in how to use it. If you want to adopt a new management method, your managers must also be trained.

4.5. Encourage collective sharing

According to the psychologist Kurt Lewin, there is a significant link between discussion and interaction . In other words, when you involve employees in the change process (by asking for their opinions, suggestions, etc.), you increase the chances of success!

This is logical: taking part in the construction of change allows you to fully identify with the project... and therefore to sincerely adhere to it!

💡 Change management is a joint project, which must be designed as such.

The right reflexes to adopt? Listen and encourage discussion, try to understand employees' concerns and the reasons why they fear change, reassure them... And allow everyone to reflect on the conditions for successful change (via workshops, for example).  

4.6. Define KPIs to analyse to measure the success of the project

Whether it is a question of change management or not, any project undertaken in a company requires some follow-up! This is the only way to measure the success of the plan put in place as well as the areas for improvement.

In the context of change management, this monitoring should make it possible to measure the support of the teams for the project.

For example, in the context of the adoption of a new tool by the sales team, one might ask: " What percentage of sales people are trained to use the new tool?

💡 Want to make your Digital Workplace project a success? The secret is optimization!
"How was your day" button to measure resistance or adherence to change management

4.7. Taking stock

This is an essential step in measuring the success or failure of a project, it is an opportunity to identify what could have been improved during all the previous steps in order to improve next time.

💡 Encourage your teams in continuous improvement by being educational!

4.8. Celebrate your success to embed new practices

Celebrating small (and big) victories: this simple principle can boost team performance! This approach is all the more crucial when it comes to change management. In fact, highlighting the added value of the change and the achievement of the objectives set allows you to insist on the reason for the change... and to anchor its use!

👉 Don't hesitate to emphasise the successes and objectives achieved through change, while praising the adaptability of your staff !

Change management in companies: issues and methods, in conclusion

Change is inexorable, and this is especially true in companies. The problem is that change is also conflictual and the support of the teams for change is never acquired.

This is why it is important to conduct proper change management. Involving employees in the process, including them in a interactive communication and guiding them step by step in the adoption of the change are all basic but essential good practices that will contribute to the success of your project.

👍 To go further on this subject, discover the benefits of internal digital communication.

Things to remember

📌 Many factors can explain the fear of change;

📌 Kotter and Schlesinger are the theorists who created change management

📌 93% of employees say they have experienced fear of change in the last three years.

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