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Nearly every organization, no matter how big or small, relies on change management teams to take charge during important transitional moments. While change management strategies themselves vary depending on different issues and industries, the process itself stays consistent, helping to create a strong foundation to return to before each brainstorming session.

Typically, people see change management processes to have five distinct steps, and this guide will give an in-depth explanation of each for a successful implementation of the change initiative. If you're wondering What are the five steps of change management? keep reading.

Step #1: Acknowledge the Need for Change

Like all changes in life, the first step is acknowledging that there is a reason to make one. Rather than focusing on the desired outcome of the change initiative, first, consider where the organization is coming from. Whether it's a change in response to an external force or a decision decided upon internally, realizing that there is a necessary change that needs to be made is where effective change management begins.1

Here are some ways to make sure you fully understand the need for a certain organizational change:

  • Take the time to consider the complexities of the issue at hand—resist the urge to jump to a solution based on what you currently know.
  • Involve a wide variety of colleagues in your discussion to ensure you have multiple points of view.
  • Think about the impact that the change will have on the organization’s operations, employees, stakeholders, and the outside world.
  • Put the situation in perspective by looking at current social changes, technological advancements, and industry standards, identifying how it relates.

Step #2: Design a Plan for Change

Once the change management team and other members of the organization that are behind the idea decide that a proposed change is necessary, the next step is to develop a realistic, detail-oriented change management plan for implementation.

Some of the details the plan should focus on addressing include:

  • Set goals – What is the ideal outcome of this proposed change—are there multiple goals?
  • Find performance indicators – How will progress be assessed and how will success be measured? How can we establish a baseline for where things currently stand?
  • Identify key members – Will the change management team implement this proposed change themselves, or will other people be taking part? What tasks are delegated to each specific person involved? Does someone need to sign off once each stage is finished?
  • Pinpoint scope – What is the scope of this project? What steps need to be taken and what is the course of action if the change management plan is met with resistance?
  • Estimate resources – How much time is needed? How many people will ultimately be a part of this change process? How much money is needed, and where is it coming from?

Communication in this stage is key, first among change management professionals responsible for devising a plan, and then to higher-level members of the organization to ensure a unified understanding of the process. Communicate change for a successful change process.

Step #3: Implement the Plan

After a clear course of action has been made, it’s time to set the plan in motion. While this may seem like one of the most self-explanatory steps of change management, it certainly isn’t simple!

The team of change management professionals implementing the changes has to put a lot of energy into making sure employees feel seen, heard, and empowered, so they're willing to learn about the changes, adopt them into their lives, and are interested in continuing with these changes after the fact.

Prioritize Employee Engagement

Despite the stressful feeling usually associated with change, new challenges can be a refreshing change of pace in the workplace. An important part of employee engagement is recognizing that employees are interested in learning about and taking on new challenges.

In fact, 83% of employees with opportunities to experience new challenges say that they’re more likely to stay with an organization in the long run, according to ReportLinker3.

Step #4: Embed Changes in Company Culture

Even if you successfully dealt with resistance during the change process, and found the rest of the employees to be receptive, human nature is such that we revert back to our old habits if possible. Managing change by making sure that there is a strategic plan for embedding the changes in the company's culture is important in getting new habits to stick.

Here are some tools to help embed the changes into an organization, as recommended by Spotlight Reporting4:

  • Create momentum by explaining the change and gaining support
  • Form a “change coalition” that has daily communication after the project
  • Remove obstacles when possible
  • Lead by example
  • Create short-term targets not one long-term goal
  • Celebrate wins and reward people for successes

Step #5: Analyze Results

Just because the plan has been executed doesn't mean it was successful. Change evaluation such as reviewing results and gathering feedback are essential steps in change management-employees' opinions may help determine if this change is one that will stick or not. If any corrective actions need to be made, the sooner those happen, the better.

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Human Resource’s Role

HR professionals attend to the employee’s concerns, questions, and issues with a clear and thorough explanation on the importance and impact of the change management process. They also facilitate meetings and communication strategies to ensure that the staff understand the objectives. They may develop training materials and programs if needed.

Management’s Role

Management should be open to one-on-one discussions with the individual team member and know how the coming change will directly affect them. This is also to understand their level of commitment in the project.

Preparing for Change

Having an in-depth understanding of both business and people can be key when working in change management. You can formally study about how both can affect the stages of change management.  

Alliant International University offers an excellent type of degree to help in preparing for a career in change management, a Master’s in Organizational Psychology. Alliant offers rigorous academic programs and opportunities for hands-on professional experience.


  1. Stella Smith, “Five Steps to Successful Change,” Go to NCVO Knowhow, accessed November 24, 2021,….
  2. Prosci, “What Is Change Management and How Does It Work?,” Prosci, accessed November 24, 2021,….
  3. Thieke, Diana. “Office Perks: Millennial Expectations Change What Employers Offer.” Accessed November 24, 2021.
  4. “How to Successfully Implement and Embed Change”…. Accessed November 24, 2021.

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