Principles of effective change management


Change is an inevitable process towards the growth and success of business. It is an essential process in today’s highly competitive and changing business environment. As a result, companies are striving to streamline their operations and growth through implementing changes to achieve the desired results. There is a need of effective change management and continuous monitoring of the change process to achieve the desired results. Moreover, organizational change needs to be aligned with the strategic plan and the employees who will execute the change .This is because employees are essential components during the change process and are directly affected by the organizational change (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.3). Apart from the employees, the organization’s leadership will determine the effectiveness of a change process through their change management. They must properly plan for the human side of change to avoid disappointment during the change process even if a change is a best-laid plan for an organization’s success (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.3). Therefore, leaders need an effective change management as well as upholding the principles of change management for them to succeed in the change process.

In this essay, the following definitions will be used for change management and leadership. According to Creasey (2007, p. 3), change management is the process or the guide necessary to produce a human behavioral change in organizations towards its growth and success. It is the technique, tools, and process to manage the human side of change to deliver the desired business outcome (Creasey, 2007, p. 3). There are several definitions of leadership, but for the purpose of this essay, leadership is the function of a person who guides, leads, or manages a group of people in an organization towards a change process and deliver the desired result (Kulatunga, 1990, p.2; Winston & Patterson, 2006, p.7).

This essay will discuss seven principles of change management along with their application to small businesses with effective leadership.

Businesses undergo a number of changes that are sometimes unavoidable for various reasons. One of these needs is the increase of performance. Some of the changes might result due to customers’ needs, emergence of business technology, complying with new laws, and employees’ skills revision to align with the new technology. A change such as adoption and implementation of new business technology will entail training of employees on how to use the new technology. Although change is very important, it should be elaborately planned so as to bring the desired results. Therefore, leaders should wisely evaluate a change including its effects. They should ask themselves a number of questions before executing the change such as the purpose of the change, how they will know if they have achieved the desired results, the people who will be affected by the change and their reactions, and how much help they require in achieving it. In return, these question will greatly help them in managing changes. Employees have no responsibility for change management. It is the responsibility of leaders and management to manage the change in a way that it will be accepted by the employees. They should not impose the changes but make people understand their aims as well as providing platform for free communication concerning the changes.

The first principle of change management is involving people to address their issues and views.  (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p.1). Many people fear transformation or organizational change due to several reasons which might lead to resistance. Clear explanation and involvement of employee during the implementation of change are crucial to avoid their resistant to change. All stakeholders need to be involved in the change process starting with the leadership team to the people in the lowest level within an organization structure (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p.1). People in the organization, especially the employees, need to understand the aim of the change before its implementation. They can be involved through their representatives to provide their views concerning the change. The change management strategy needs to be aligned with the strategic plan of the organization. Moreover, the management should ensure that a change is realistic, measurable, and achievable, in addition to the organization’s readiness and capacity to change (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.4). This principle is essential in the success of a change in small businesses. Leaders in small businesses need to actively involve employees in a change process to address their issue for successful management and implementation. It will help people in small business to understand the mission, vision, and goal of a change as well as addressing their issues regarding the change. Involving people in the change process is an important principle of change management that will enhance its acceptance and reduce resistance by addressing people’s issues.

The second principle of change management is starting the change at the top. According to Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping (2004, p.4), change will be experienced at all levels of an organization. However, it should start from the top. This is because the change needs to be accepted by the managers or leaders who will manage it. They need to determine the effectiveness of the change before its implementation. The effort of the executive teams towards a change will determine its success or failure. Moreover, they are the people who will be held responsible if the change fails (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p.2). As a result, they need to decide on the change and even make a possible adjustment before rolling it out. The principle can be applied in small business by first communicating the change to supervisor(s) or manager(s) who act as a conduit between employees and the business owners.  Communicating a change from top level to the lower level of a business is important in increasing commitment and acceptance of the change by all levels of an organization.

The third principle of change management involves every level in the organization. The change affects different layers of the organization and, therefore, they should all be involved in the change process (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 2). Different leaders from different levels should be given responsibility for planning and implementing changes in their respective layers of the organization (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.6). The leaders must be trained towards upholding the organization’s vision, mission, and goals as well as advocating for change. Cascading the responsibility to every level of the organization from top level to lower level of the organization is necessary to enhance acceptance and success of the change (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 2). The effectiveness of how leaders will exercise their responsibility in creating awareness concerning the change will show their commitment towards organization’s vision, mission, and goal. The principle can be applied in small business by giving responsibility to leaders in all sections to communicate and implement change in their respective sections. This will ensure that all sections of small businesses clearly know and understand the change thus increasing acceptance and achieving the desired result.  Involving every level in the organization is an important principle in managing change to achieve the desired result.

The fourth principle of change management is communicating the change (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.8) .Leaders should not assume that people have understood their message concerning the change program. They need to constantly remind people on a regular basis to reinforce their commitment and understanding of the change process as well as motivating them (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 3). They should also provide a platform for questions and feedback from people. This will create good interpersonal communication as well as a commitment to the change program. This principle can be applied in small business by clearly communicating the change and constantly reminding people about a change. It will make the change to be clear in people’s mind and work toward achieving the objective and goal of a change. Communicating the change and continuously reminding people about the change is an important principle of change management that is essential for its successful implementation.

The fifth principle of change management is the creation of ownership (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.7). Leaders are expected to be at the forefront during the transformation of the change process and leading the process. Leaders should act like they own the change process and therefore accept its full responsibility to make the change happen (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 3). They need to have control over the success of the change program. They can achieve this by creating a good relationship with the others and identifying problems as well as providing solutions (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.8). This will strengthen their management and success in the change process. It can be applied in small business by supervisor(s) or managers(s) taking ownership of the change and supporting employees in the change program as well as having control over the program. Leaders creating ownership of a change is a crucial principle of change management through supporting and controlling the change program.

The sixth principle of change management is assessing the cultural landscape (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 3). An organization needs to understand and evaluate the culture and behavior of each layer of the organization (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.9). An organization culture has an impact on the change process and it should be assessed to determine its alignment with the success of a change. Many leaders delay in assessing culture which might affect the change program. Cultural diagnosis can help in assessing company’s readiness to change and establish factors that can cause resistance. It helps to identify the beliefs, perceptions, behaviors, and core values that are important for the successful change (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 4). They serve as a pointer to essential change elements such as the program needed for a change process. It can be applied in small business by assessing people’s culture to determine their readiness for the change and make necessary adjustment for acceptance and successful implementation of the change. Assessing and understanding cultural landscape is an important principle in change management to remain the right course of change process.

The final principle of change management is preparing for the unexpected. It is common to experience challenge during change program. Leaders should be prepared for any challenge or shortcoming to the strategic plan of change process (Jones, Aguirre & Calderone, 2004, p. 4). Psychological preparation for the unexpected change of plans allows people to recover easily from the challenges. Effective management of changes need frequent assessment of the prevailing situation and evaluating the capability of the organization withstanding the next level of transformation. Proper analysis and assessment of the situation will help in making the correct decision and even making possible adjustments to avoid unexpected challenges (Aguirre, Neilson & Tipping, 2004, p.11). It can be applied in small businesses by leaders being ready to deal with unexpected challenges during the change process to help in easy recovery from such challenges. Preparing for the unexpected helps to easily recover from challenges.

In conclusion, change is pervasive in the modern business environment. Leaders need to understand that change is essential for the growth and success of the business, but it should be effectively managed. Management of the change will determine whether it will succeed or fail. Employees are a very important component in an organization and will either resist or support the change because it directly affects them. The leader should not impose a change on the employees but involve them in designing and implementation of an organization change. The principle of changes management need to be applied to all type of businesses including small business for successful implementation of change and achieving the desired results.

References

Aguirre, D., Neilson G., & Tipping A. (2004). Ten guiding principles of change managementStrategyand.pwc.com. Accessed from http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/guiding-principles-change-management

Creasey, T. (2007). Defining change management. Prosci and the Change Management Learning Center.

Jones, J., Aguirre, D., & Calderone, M. (2004). 10 Principles of Change Management. Booz and Company Inc.

Kulatunga, A. A Personal Application of Kotter’s (1990) Definition of Leadership. SSRN Electronic Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.976167

Winston, B. E., & Patterson, K. (2006). An integrative definition of leadership. International journal of leadership studies1(2), 6-66.

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