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Change Management in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

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Change is no stranger to the workplace. Think about the improving social fabric: new behavioral protocols, new sensitivity and cultural bias training, and creating safe and inclusive environments for employees. Even business and financial adaptations—like technological advancements and management switches—involve top-down workplace changes. While these changes can be challenging, they’re also necessary.

And the silver lining in even the most stressful situations? With change comes opportunity. 

Change management teams capitalize on this opportunity. 

What is Change Management?

Change management involves analyzing how a given situation alters an organization’s current trajectory and using creative problem-solving to facilitate long-term growth.

Relating this to workplace changes, consider if the company is implementing inclusive hiring practices at all levels of management. How would they accomplish this? Would they build a system where hiring managers are unable to see names on resumes? Would they utilize third-party organizations who specialize in diversity training and hiring?

Additionally, once inclusive hires are employed, how can the company continue to strive to better its practices with daily, interpersonal exchanges?

Whatever the change, the key to success is proper planning and effective communication. Looking to start your career in change management? Alliant has numerous degree and non-degree programs in psychology to kickstart your career. 

What Does Change Management in the Workplace Look Like?

Workplace change comes in many forms, from small maintenance-based changes to larger social disruptions that are crucial to creating the biggest impact for employee wellness. Whether the proposed change consists of some new technology or a replacement of senior management, successful change management professionals know that even the simplest changes can be demanding and difficult to navigate without proper training.

Classifications of Change in the Workplace

Here are the four classifications of change:

  • Social change – When an organization changes its internal hiring or management tactics to better suit the changing landscape of America’s workforce, this is social change. These changes are based on a holistic outlook, bettering the work conditions and health of employees, and the company at large.
  • Developmental change – An organizational change that optimizes and improves previously established internal processes, business strategies, and other procedures. It is an adaptive approach that makes modifications as time progresses, such as updating standard protocols or getting new equipment.
  • Transitional change – These changes come about when there is a problem with a company existing in its current state, and the solution is to move away from how it was running before and enter a new state. Examples of this include mergers, acquisitions, and automation.
  • Transformational change – When people fear a change in the workplace, they typically think of transformational change. This type of change radically and fundamentally alters the culture, core values, and operations of an organization. When not handled in a quick and strategic manner, these can erupt into a host of inefficiencies that drastically impacts a company’s trajectory and its workplace environment. An example of transformational change would be a massive round of layoffs due to company restructuring. 

Examples of Change in the Workplace

Change happens for many reasons and occurs on every level of organizational structure. Here are some examples of changes commonly experienced in the workplace:

  • Implementing inclusive hiring practices for all levels of management
  • Creating safe environments where employees are free to express their individuality
  • Enacting stringent policies against workplace discrimination
  • Creating goals meant to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding new employees
  • Reevaluating team structures to meet new demands of a changing workforce
  • Shrinking, growing, or merging departments
  • Responding to the industry and other competition with forward-thinking business models
  • Expanding the organization—adding different goods or services, setting up more locations, developing an offshoot brand, or merging with another organization
  • Adjusting working practices or strategy to reflect a change in senior management
  • Organizing skills-based and behavioral training regularly, in addition to any other programs that directly pertain to a problem within or relating to the workplace

Whether the change is expected or unexpected, desirable or undesirable, any situation that requires adaptation within the workplace for the sake of progress is change. These changes should be viewed as an interconnected process rather than an isolated event—especially when the health and wellness of employees are in the balance, like with social change.

Why Does Change Management in the Workplace Matter?

Sometimes looking at work-related change can feel like a giant list of things that can go wrong, and our instinct is to try to avoid as many of those things as possible. But change is actually a valuable part of business. Companies that stay stagnant lose relevance. Adapting to new approaches to business and possibilities within the workplace is beneficial to both a company and its employees.

Karen McCullough, a keynote speaker on company branding and workforce change, explains that when companies prioritize change management in the workplace, they establish that it cares about the following:

  • Employee morale
  • Innovation
  • Avoiding a stale environment
  • Finding new opportunities

Boosting Employee Morale

By embracing a new idea and having a system to handle change management in the workplace, better employee morale will result. A workplace that is well-organized and willing to try new things helps facilitate an environment where employees are engaged and feel cared for, making them more likely to do better work and stay with the company.

Encouraging Innovation

Without change, companies begin to sink, while their competitors in the industry rise. When a company reacts to the trends of its industry and brings diverse minds to the table, new ideas are born and people get to expand their skill sets, developing as individuals and employees.

Avoiding a Stale Work Environment

A stale work environment doesn’t benefit anyone. When a workplace has the same functions every day for a long period of time, it creates monotony that slows down the pace of a company and its employees. Keeping communication open and day-to-day work engaging facilitates development on all levels of a company.

Finding New Business Opportunities

When a company is willing to be flexible and try new things in order to get involved with other companies, expand their contacts, and improve their efficiency and quality of work, new opportunities continue to present themselves.

Getting Involved: Change Management in the Workplace

If you’re looking to start a career as someone who facilitates organizational change, below you’ll find everything you need to know about being a part of a change management team.

Establishing a Change Management Team

Organizational change management teams are set up differently within every company, but the three major roles are change management consultant, organizational change manager, and organizational change leader. In an ideal situation, the organizational change manager and leader will be the same person, but in large teams, the role is often split up.

Despite their different titles, all three of the positions have the same general tasks: 

  • Identify potential changes
  • Consider all aspects for adequate preparedness
  • Design a plan for implementation
  • Communicate the plan to colleagues and executives
  • Execute the plan in the workplace
  • Assess the process from start to finish

Within these tasks, each title has its own area of specialization that when put together makes a holistic team.

Change Management Consultant

Consultants that handle change management in the workplace focus on the psychology side of business during change processes. They give advice on customer, client, and stakeholder engagement, and focus on personal employee development. One example of the kind of changes consultants are in charge of is designing and conducting psychological-based programs, like standards of workplace behavior and cultural sensitivity training.

Organizational Change Manager

Change managers are the business counterpart to change management consultants. During the process of identifying exactly what steps need to take place and in what order, managers focus on dividing up and allocating resources to specific parts of the plan.

Organizational Change Leader

In the work environments where managers and leaders are separate entities, leaders act as representatives for the organizational change management team and focus on communication. 

During the initial stages of change processes, those in charge of change management have to communicate their plan with fellow employees and workplace executives. As a leader, the main focuses are presentation and implementation rather than designing and monitoring the plan itself.

Education Requirements for Change Management Jobs

To hold a position in change management you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Like many careers, having a higher degree, such as a master’s degree, is a great way to stand out amongst other applicants, have additional job opportunities, and be eligible for higher pay. Regardless, you will be able to apply for most change management jobs with a bachelor’s degree.

Requirements for Change Management Consultants

As a consultant, you’ll want to get a Bachelor of Science in Psychology as an undergraduate degree. If you’re interested in further specialization, you can prepare yourself for this position with a Master’s in Organizational Psychology. If you are seeking a higher-level consultation career, consider attaining a doctoral degree in Organizational Psychology or Organizational Development and set yourself apart as a thought leader.

Requirements for Change Managers and Leaders

Similarly, while a BS in Business Administration is a helpful degree for operational change managers and leaders, a degree related to psychology offers a more in-depth understanding of the people-side of business. This is what’s needed to effectively communicate social and organizational change to all levels of a given company.

Start Your Career in Change Management

At Alliant International University, you can prepare yourself for a career aiding change management in the workplace and working to build a better, more cohesive social net. With a wide range of psychology degrees, you can get an award-winning education and the professional experience needed to kickstart your career. Plus, with both online and in-person campuses, you’re able to learn in the most efficient way for you.

Ready to get started? Get in contact with Alliant today!

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