When an organization undergoes a big change or transition, a change management model outlining the process can be helpful. Not only can having a model when processing changes be helpful, but it can also have a positive impact on staff, team members and supervisors whose roles are important for successfully implementing company changes.
In this article, we discuss what a change management model is, the benefits of using one and eight proven effective change management models to consider when outlining your organization’s plans for transition.
What is a change management model?
A change management model is used to help outline, describe and simplify the process of change within a business or organization.
For instance, a business changing how its sales team approaches new clients may adopt a change management model to help outline specific parts of the sales process that need to change or be developed. A change management model may then be implemented to help all team members involved with participating in the changes the company is going through.
Why is it important to use change management models?
Any kind of change in an office process can be disruptive to productivity and employee motivation. Following a specific plan, whether it’s one method or a combination of methods, will ensure that your employees are all following the same guidelines and share the same expectations. A solid plan will also help you avoid unexpected costs or last-minute adjustments.
Change management models and their benefits
The following list includes effective change management models and highlights the advantages of each model. After evaluating all of these models, you may decide to use a combination of approaches to ensure a successful and productive experience for your team.
1. Lewin’s change management model
Lewin’s change management model was developed in the 1940s by Kurt Lewin, a physicist. His theory of change management involved three steps, a system of transition that he connected to the likeness he observed in melting ice cubes. He described the organizational change as having three distinct phases:
Unfreeze: In the “unfreeze” phase, the organization must reassess its current business processes and organizational perceptions to prepare for the upcoming transition or change. In this step of the Lewin change management model, the team approaches the tasks, challenges or duties without bias or continuing old ways of doing things. This first step can be critical in addressing any employee concerns surrounding new changes, whether that be redirecting their roles or assigning new jobs to senior staff.
Change: In the “change” phase, staff and managers work together to implement the change strategies—such as clear communication, planning and outlining specific new processes—that they have initiated as part of the organization’s transition.
Refreeze: In the last phase, “refreeze” refers to the steps taken once new changes are implemented to keep the new organizational structure. This final step in Lewin’s change management model requires that all individuals involved and taking part in the company’s changes maintain the new initiatives outlined in the change management plans that have been adopted by the company.
The biggest benefit of this model is that during the first phase (the “unfreeze” step), every part of your organization’s processes is assessed and analyzed at every angle. This can help by uncovering any past errors that may have been unnoticed previously. This can then further benefit the entire change process, especially once all involved know of their role in incorporating organizational change.
2. ADKAR model
The ADKAR change management model is a people-focused way to initiate change at all stages of the process. This model was created by Jeffrey Hiatt, and his goal with this model was to offer an effective approach to facilitating change on an individual basis, as oftentimes changes within a professional organization become less of a focus than the reactions employees have toward them. Each part of the ADKAR acronym represents how the model works to initiate change on this individual level:
Awareness: This step illustrates to all individuals involved that change needs to happen.
Desire: In this step, individuals are encouraged to participate in and support company changes.
Knowledge: During this phase, managers and supervisors may provide all individuals the knowledge of what strategies to implement to successfully participate in and complete the change process.
Ability: Supervisors may make as many resources available to staff as possible to help give them the ability to implement the changes.
Reinforcement: Reinforcement serves to acknowledge and support the staff as they continue to develop and work through the transition.
The benefit to the ADKAR model is in the ability to manage the change processes by giving a clear understanding of what changes are occurring, the reasons for the changes and how the new changes will affect employees personally. This is beneficial because it can allow staff and team members to have direct participation in initiating and continuing to be successful in implementing organizational changes.
3. Kotter’s 8-step change model
This change management model was developed by John Kotter after he experienced significant organizational transitions. The model he developed focuses on the employees experiencing the organizational changes. The eight steps of Kotter’s model include:
Creating a sense of urgency
Building strong coalitions
Forming strategic visions
Getting everyone involved
Enabling action by removing obstacles
Generating short-term achievements
Sustaining the changes
Instituting the changes
During these steps, employees and supervisors may evaluate the effects of the changes on all aspects of the business. The benefit of this model lies in its approach to turning resistant staff into receptive participants of change through building trust, supporting transparency and encouraging teamwork. Additionally, by making objectives clear, this model brings staff together to undergo the process as a team.
4. Kubler-Ross change curve
Even though this change model is known as “the five stages of grief,” it can be an effective approach to outlining your change processes because it can break down each stage of transition and how individuals process change in general. The five stages in this model include:
When planning for change, consider this model as a means of anticipating your staff’s reactions to implemented changes to help you engage your teams and help them process and initiate transition. The benefits of following this outline are that supervisors and managers can anticipate an individual’s ability to progress through organizational change, as well as take into account how transitions will affect each employee. While each individual may move through these five stages differently and at different levels, this model works by acknowledging the emotional effects of transition in the workplace.
5. McKinsey 7s model
This change management model was initially developed in the 1970s by Thomas Peters and Robert Watermen, two men at the McKinsey consulting firm. This model illustrates how the different parts of a business or organization work in tandem. According to this model, there are seven key elements that every organization possesses. These seven elements include:
Strategy, structure and system account for what this model refers to as “hard elements,” or those elements that are easier to identify and control. Shared values, such as staff, style and skills account for “soft elements” that are a little more difficult to assess and control.
As an example, a company that grows from 20 employees to 40 can anticipate changes to the other parts of the business such as the system, structure and style of the organization. Additionally, when growing in number, the staff is equally affected as are the shared values of all involved in the organization.
The benefit of this model is the fact that these seven elements serve to take into account each part of an organization’s processes, from the individuals who work there to the CEOs who are heads of the company, as well as the change initiation itself.
6. PDCA change management model
This model can also be called “the Deming wheel,” or “control cycle.” The PDCA model was developed by William Deming during the 1950s, and its acronym stands for “plan,” “do,” “check” and “act,” which serves as a model for a cyclical and continuous implementation of change and development.
Plan: In this step, the transition is planned for, with all processes and participating individuals taken into account. It’s also the phase of questioning what needs to change and how the transition will be initiated.
Do: During this stage, the plan is initiated and the transition is moved forward, involving all who have an impact on the change’s success.
Check: This step involves checking on each step of the change process and how it is affecting staff, business processes and other elements of the organization.
Act: Act refers to the continuous improvement supported through the transition process, requiring staff and teams to participate and act in all aspects of the change outline.
The biggest benefit of this model is that it supports a cyclical process of implementing changes in your company while allowing for a revolving assessment of the growth and development achieved through the transition. It can also support a plan for continuous improvement before, during and after implementing new changes.
7. Nudge theory
The Nudge Theory is based on a book by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein called “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.” This theory is a less structured approach to change that focuses on the employee’s perspective and encourages employees to make changes for their own benefit, as well as for the benefit of the company. In this way, management nudges employees to make changes themselves. This theory also encourages management to be open to feedback from employees.
8. Bridges Transitional model
This model was developed by William Bridges and it focuses on the emotional impact of making changes. The model offers three stages:
Endings: The end of the current status is a time of letting go emotionally.
Neutral Zone: The phase between ending the current status and before the change has taken place can be a time of confusion and uncertainty.
New Beginnings: After the change has taken place and a new status has begun can be a time of acceptance and accomplishment.
I hope you find this article helpful.