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No matter how much we resist it, change is inevitable. Organizations restructure, products come and go, and the future brings on new systems and challenges.

Change management, however, seeks to control change and utilize it to help organizations succeed. Change management planning is the process of outlining an organization’s tactics for capitalizing on upcoming changes.

In this blog, we’re exploring everything you need to know about effective change management planning. We’ll also share key tips for developing an organizational change management plan. 

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The Significance of Change Management in Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychology applies psychological concepts to business practices to help companies optimize their operations. For this reason, organizational psychologists can be critical players in organizational change management planning.1

Effective change management planning envisions achievable end goals that incorporate all of an organization’s members. Organizational psychologists can facilitate successful change management plans by:2

  • Analyzing the scope of organizational goals and gauging their feasibility
  • Developing performance metrics to help judge the success of a plan
  • Utilizing their knowledge of human behavior to develop easily implementable strategies that garner the support of an organization's members

The importance of change management cannot be overstated because organizational change is complex and the stakes are so high. Poorly implemented changes can cause employees undue stress and have a negative effect on a business’s organizational efficiency.

Learnings from Expert Change Management Plans

If you had the chance to ask former Google CEO Larry Page, "What is a change management plan?”, chances are you’d get a complex, multifaceted answer. Page was in charge of Google’s absorption into its parent company Alphabet and, while it might be difficult to get an audience with him, there’s plenty to learn from the change management strategies he used during that transition.

Google had been acquiring new ventures and wanted to maintain complete transparency regarding the operations of its different branches. Page established Alphabet so that stakeholders could gain more insight into the purpose and profitability of the parent company’s different sectors.3 Keeping stakeholders informed about organizational changes is key to garnering public support for change management plans.

In the end, Page’s change management strategy worked, and Google’s restructuring into Alphabet:4

  • Proved to investors that it could deliver profits as it explored new industries
  • Kept it on the path to profitability and maintained public investment in the company
  • Upheld public trust in the Google name by allowing the company to explore various industries under other monikers 

Another interesting case study in change management planning is Toyota’s creation of the just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing method. JIT manufacturing builds cars after orders have been received, rather than forecasting stock for a given period—something unheard of before Toyota implemented it.

Change management planning, however, often involves taking calculated risks to push your organization toward its ultimate goals. Toyota’s change initiative to JIT manufacturing worked because the company had concrete objectives of saving warehouse space, producing vehicles as quickly as possible, and maximizing company-wide efficiency. Now, the model is a standard in the manufacturing industry worldwide.5

Crafting an Effective Change Management Plan

Every organization’s operations and objectives are different and, thus, their change management plans will be different. Nonetheless, there are some basic steps to follow that can help ensure a successful and effective change management plan:

  • Develop a central vision – An ultimate goal gives organizational members a guiding light to help steer their decision-making  with regard to managing change and keep them on track with ongoing changes. Setting clear performance metrics is crucial at this stage of change management planning.
  • Establish a team of leaders – The debate of change management vs. change leadership is at the forefront in this situation. The most common reason for organizational resistance to the change process is a lack of faith in leadership, so creating a knowledgeable team of well-respected leaders is crucial. 
  • Outline a strategy – Incremental goals provide employees with achievable steps forward. Employing effective change management strategies often involves taking calculated risks to push your organization towards the business goals.
  • Inform stakeholders – As noted in the Google change management model case study, keeping stakeholders on board with change management plans is essential to securing public trust in your organization.
  • Facilitate company-wide communication – No colleagues or partners should be blindsided by the changes you implement. Utilize your team of trusted leaders to communicate the change initiative, including new policies and expectations to every level of your organization.
  • Give employees the means to succeed – Implement, explain, and monitor new systems or policies and ensure all employees are up-to-date on their use. Employees dealing with organizational changes experience stress at twice the normal rate—don’t make a lack of tools and support another issue for them to worry about.7
  • Gauge progress and rework strategies – Consult your previously established performance metrics and determine how the changes you implemented live up to your targets. If they fall short, at least you’ve gained valuable insight you can use to rework your change management plan.

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4 Key Tips for Incorporating Psychology into Change Management Planning

Leaders in change management employ a variety of psychological principles to motivate employees, overcome challenges, and achieve their change management goals. To apply these principles yourself, remember to:8

  • Give colleagues a purpose to believe in – Employees are generally more motivated when they’re connected to their work and can revel in the fruits of their labor. Establish a central vision for your change management process plan that’s not only effective and achievable but also popular amongst your colleagues. 
  • Implement reinforcement systems – To further keep employees invested in your organizational objectives, reinforce positive practices that contribute to your goals. From upholding reward systems to modeling behavior in upper management, colleagues should be consistently reminded of the policies steering organizational change.
  • Understand employee capabilities and provide the skills to facilitate change – Organizational changes may force employees to adapt to different roles and develop new skills. It’s important to offer judgment-free training to bring colleagues up to speed on new systems and duties as part of a successful change management strategy.
  • Provide consistent role models – Employees working under effective leaders typically model their behavior after them in hopes of achieving the same level of success. As such, effective change management plans employ consistent role models who routinely reinforce organizational goals and policies around change.

Develop Your Change Management Skills with a Degree in Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychology is the basis for many leading theories and practices in change management planning. To get a more broad perspective on the discipline, consider enrolling in an organizational psychology program at Alliant International University.

Alliant offers an in-depth and informative master’s in organizational psychology (MAOP) with both online and on-campus options. Our established, respected professors and comprehensive curriculum can help you enhance your change management skills and develop a more thorough comprehension of the field as a whole.

For an even more robust understanding of change management, consider the PhD in industrial and organizational psychology program at Alliant. The program is ideal for employed professionals who want to tighten their grasp on change management concepts while practically applying them to optimize their workplace.

To learn more about our programs and choose a path toward mastering change management, explore our organizational psychology degrees.


Sources: 

  1. “Industrial and Organizational Psychology.” American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/industrial. Accessed October 22, 2023. 
  2. “Industrial and Organizational Psychology Provides Workplace Solutions.” American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/education-career/guide/subfields/organizational. Accessed October 22, 2023. 
  3. Sharma, Rakesh. “Why Google Became Alphabet.” Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/081115/why-google-becam…. Accessed October 23, 2023. 
  4. Sharma, Rakesh. “Why Google Became Alphabet.” Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/081115/why-google-becam…. Accessed October 23, 2023. 
  5. Toyota Motor Corporation. “Toyota Production System.” Toyota Motor Corporation Official Global Website. https://global.toyota/en/company/vision-and-philosophy/production-syste…. Accessed October 23, 2023. 
  6. “Oak Engage’s Change Report.” Oak Engage. https://www.oak.com/media/c5llwb4v/oak-change-report-digital.pdf. Accessed October 23, 2023.
  7. “Change at Work Linked to Employee Stress, Distrust and Intent to Quit, New Survey Finds.” American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/05/employee-stress. Accessed October 23, 2023. 
  8. Lawson, Emily, and Colin Price. “The Psychology of Change Management.” McKinsey & Company, June 1, 2003. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-perform…. Accessed October 23, 2023. 

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