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Change Management Strategies and How to Create Them

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Published on: 11/20/2023
Last Updated: 11/20/2023
7 minute read

Change management is a discipline focused on developing ideas and skills to help people effectively engage with change.1 In businesses and organizations, the change management process is a key method of planning for future obstacles, opportunities, and outcomes. Understanding the importance of change management is crucial when developing ideas and skills to help people effectively engage with the change initiative.

In order to make the most of shifting scenarios, organizations need clear tactics for dealing with and managing change. From brainstorming to implementation, this guide walks you through the process of honing productive change management strategies.

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What is a Change Management Strategy?

Change management strategies are methodical plans intended to help you achieve future objectives. An effective change management strategy helps you envision where you want to be and plotting out the necessary changes to make in order to reach that position.2

From a new employee benefits program to a corporation upgrading its technology infrastructure to better serve customers, successful change management strategies span a wide scope.

Organizational change management strategies refer to plans businesses make to alter a significant portion of their operations.3 This type of change management can impact nearly any part of an organization, including:

  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Company culture
  • Staffing
  • Customer relations
  • Finance
  • Other important aspects of a business

Change management strategies acknowledge that the scope and function of these and other fields will change with the times. Furthermore, an organizational change management plan helps organizational leaders control the effects of change by establishing parameters on:4

  • Protocols created to respond to it
  • Concepts used to understand it
  • Approaches to dealing with its effects
  • Language employed to discuss it

Common Pitfalls of the Change Management Process

Effective change management strategies are highly specific to individual businesses and their own goals. Nonetheless, there are several common mistakes organizational leaders tend to make when developing ineffective change management strategies. When plotting out how you intend to deal with the future, keep in mind these typical change management process missteps:

  • Not getting everyone on board – Even if an organization is only changing one aspect of its structure, every other department will be affected in one way or another by the change initiative. Failing to notify staff into the change process can throw off their productivity when they have new responsibilities or systems to deal with. 
  • Not plotting out a central vision – When implementing a series of changes, it’s important that they build to an ultimate objective. Such goals should be clearly laid out in the change management plan to guide staff in adjusting to organizational changes.
  • Forgetting about short-term goals – Grandiose changes, such as implementing new IT infrastructure or relocating a business’s headquarters, are admirable once accomplished. Waiting too long for a change's outcome, however, can cause organizational members to become disillusioned or dissatisfied with a change management strategy. Breaking larger shifts down into a series of short-term, achievable changes can keep an organization firmly committed to its vision. 

Key Components of Successful Change Management Strategies

Enacting successful changes on an organizational level takes critical, creative thinking and the ability to gauge a variety of potential future outcomes. Consider these best practices when crafting an effective change management strategy:

  • Establish a vision – As noted above, without a central goal to aspire to, change management strategies are destined to splinter and become ineffective.
  • Involve senior leadership – Drafting a team of committed leaders to oversee and enact organizational changes can help guide junior members and keep everyone on track.
  • Develop a detailed strategy – It’s not just enough to establish an end goal when managing change. Clearly outlining the series of steps your organization must take to reach it is a core part of change management planning, which helps keep tabs on overall progress and lay out what still needs to be done.
  • Engage key stakeholders – It’s important to maintain transparency with investors and be open about the changes you’re making. If you can turn key stakeholders into Change Champions—people who vehemently support proposed changes and advocate for their implementation—all the better.
  • Communicate at all levels – As mentioned, major organizational changes—either directly or indirectly—affect every department of a business. Clear organization-wide communication about the change process is essential so no one is surprised by their implementation.
  • Create infrastructure to support adoption – Creating and enforcing new policies, systems, and procedures can help guide changes toward their desired results.
  • Measure progress – Collect and analyze data against established Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge success and determine if you need to rework your change management strategy. 

The Psychology Behind Change Management

Studies from organizational psychology show how people are resistant to change, and one of the largest impediments to business-wide changes is resistance from employees.5 In order to guide effective organizational changes, leaders must sway these stoic attitudes.

Properly preparing employees for change leads to less hesitance and resistance toward it.  Prepared employees don’t view changes with anxious, skeptical mindsets, but instead understand and adapt to their new challenges.6

So, before implementing major changes, clearly lay out their effects, tell employees what they will need to do to adjust, and make sure everyone is prepared to take the path of least resistance. 

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Implementing Change Management Strategies in Real-World Scenarios

Studying how Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) implement change management strategies can give context to how they work in real-world scenarios. NGOs, such as the United Nations (UN), must enact organizational change on a global scale. While such organizations aim to implement change management policies in a measured, systematic manner, in practice, the process is often chaotic.7

Organizations spread across large geographical areas with varying resources don’t all have the resources to effectively enforce a change management strategy according to central policies. In these situations, change may be enacted unequally and at different rates across different branches.

In these scenarios, branches that have successfully enacted change management strategies can share recommendations and resources with others that are still in the process.8 Similarly, departments of businesses that have success with a change management technique can share their approaches and outcomes with others to facilitate a central change management policy.

Building Change Management Skills

Change management is a robust discipline with a long history of scholarship and theory. In order to understand the varied complexities of crafting change management strategies, it can be helpful to pursue a thorough education on the topic. 

Those interested in change management as a discipline may consider taking business or psychology as an undergraduate degree. Both provide a solid basis for building skills and competencies as you pursue higher education, such as a master’s or Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. 

Pursue Change Management by Studying Organizational Psychology at Alliant

Alliant International University offers two exciting graduate-level programs in organizational psychology that can help you build better change management skills:

Both programs offer deep dives into the theory, practice, and application of change management strategies in organizational settings. They’re also taught with engaging material by seasoned professors and use a combination of coursework and experiential training to help prepare you for real-world change management scenarios.

To learn more about these programs and our school of organizational psychology as a whole, visit our dedicated information site for more information. 


Sources: 

  1. “The Basics of Managing Change.” MIT Human Resources. https://hr.mit.edu/learning-topics/change/articles/basics. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  2. “Organisational Change Management: A Critical Review.” Journal of Change Management. https://www.avannistelrooij.nl/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Todnem-BY-…. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  3. Miranda, Dana. “The Four Principles of Change Management.” Forbes, August 8, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/principles-of-change-management/. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  4. Miranda, Dana. “The Four Principles of Change Management.” Forbes, August 8, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/principles-of-change-management/. Accessed October 20, 2023
  5. Rehman, Nabeel, Asif Mahmood, Muhammad Ibtasam, Shah Ali Murtaza, Naveed Iqbal, and Edina Molnár. “The Psychology of Resistance to Change: The Antidotal Effect of Organizational Justice, Support and Leader-Member Exchange.” Frontiers, July 6, 2021. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.678952/full. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  6. Rehman, Nabeel, Asif Mahmood, Muhammad Ibtasam, Shah Ali Murtaza, Naveed Iqbal, and Edina Molnár. “The Psychology of Resistance to Change: The Antidotal Effect of Organizational Justice, Support and Leader-Member Exchange.” Frontiers, July 6, 2021. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.678952/full. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  7. Sakib, S M Nazmuz. 2021. “A CASE STUDY OF THE FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT.” SocArXiv. October 21. doi:10.31235/osf.io/42scg. Accessed October 20, 2023. 
  8. Sakib, S M Nazmuz. 2021. “A CASE STUDY OF THE FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT.” SocArXiv. October 21. doi:10.31235/osf.io/42scg. Accessed October 20, 2023. 

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