Businesswoman Writing Ideas On Glass Screen During Meeting

What Is Organizational Change Management?


Change is unavoidable. As individuals, we change as we age, grow, and learn more about ourselves and the world around us—and the same is true for business. Every organization, no matter how big or small, will have to adapt at some point. But in order to do that smoothly and successfully, there need to be people in charge of organizational change management.

This guide will help you understand what these changes look like and why organizational change management matters, so you can see if it’s the right career path for you.

Get your Organizational Psychology Degree

What Is Organizational Change?

Before answering what is organizational change management, it’s important to have a grasp of what exactly organizational change is.

The term organizational change refers to the actions that an organization, company, or business takes when it alters something within its own practices and structures—whether that’s the workplace culture, new technology, infrastructure, or internal operations and logistics.

What Causes Organizational Change?

Organizational change, and being in charge of organizational change, can seem intimidating due to its vagueness, but not all changes have a massive impact. Here are some applied examples of what might cause organizational change to take place:

  • Interviewing and onboarding new employees
  • New leadership in a company or department
  • Adapting to a new employee team structure
  • Shrinking or growing a specific department
  • Altering internal processes so they stay to scale
  • Implementing a new technology initiative
  • Developing newer business models
  • Creating another business within the brand
  • Merging with a separate organization

Not only are many of these examples unavoidable parts of any operating business, but when leveraged in an advantageous way, it can be a huge opportunity for growth and success—both for the business and the person handling organizational change management.

What Are the Different Types of Organizational Change?

In the same way that there are different causes of organizational change, they also have different demands, time frames, and outcomes. Change happens on a wide spectrum, but on either end of the scale there are two classifications that can be made: 

  • Adaptive change 
  • Transformational change

Adaptive Change

Adaptive changes are smaller, incremental shifts that evolve as an organization’s needs change over time. Think: upgrading the technology in the workplace to newer models, updating operating systems, or creating a way for departments to learn about and transition to a new software program.

In these situations, the organizational change management team is presented with these modifications or tasks and expected to figure out how to implement them in the most efficient way. As an organizational change manager, you’ll oversee every small detail of the change and prepare for different outcomes—good and bad—requiring meticulous attention to detail.

Transformational Change

On the opposite end, you’ll find the changes that are larger on scale and scope. These transformational changes are often two-fold. For instance, a business may experience a shift in more than one area simultaneously—like brand mission and business strategies, employee onboarding and team structure, business performance and internal processes.

With such large-scale issues, transformational changes take more time and energy and cause more disruption than adaptive changes. However, the biggest difference between the two is that the catalyst for transformational change is often caused by an external factor, whereas adaptive is caused by an internal factor. 

An adaptive change can be thought of as a strategic change and is often associated with preemptive action, whereas transformational change is more likely to be a reaction. 

A transformational example would be a business responding to a disruption in the supply chain, a process that the organizational change management team would be heavily involved in.

What Does Organizational Change Management Do?

Working in organizational change management means you’re given the responsibility of facilitating seamless transitions. This requires good preparation and planning skills, as well as the ability to implement plans and then adapt during execution.

Within a corporate structure, there are several positions that make up the organizational change management team: consultants, leaders, and managers.

Leaders vs. Managers

In an organizational change management team there is either a leader and a manager, or simply a manager who fills the role of both—if a company does have two separate titles, here’s how their roles differ:

  • Leaders – In management, a leader looks at the overall picture and is able to easily articulate the changes happening within the company. This includes what’s happening and why, as well as what needs to be done to ease the transition. A leader may also take part in the planning process if a manager gives them a plan and they think something needs fine-tuning.
  • Managers – Managers focus less on communication and more on the business side, identifying the exact steps that need to happen and in what order. After designing the process, they’ll also have directing duties like allocating resources, adapting the process if necessary, and determining a way to measure success.

Ideally, there would be one person in the team who can be both a leader and manager, bridging the gap and streamlining the transitional process. They would be able to come up with a plan, execute it, and communicate exactly what their intentions are to their team members, fellow employees, and executives.

How Much Do Organizational Change Managers Make?

Within the organizational change management sector, you can expect a high-earning salary, especially if you’re operating in technology or political organizations. The salary range for organizational change managers is wide, spanning from $60,000 to $145,000, with a median salary of $97,330, according to the salary reporting site PayScale

Here is what organizational change managers can expect to receive in terms of compensation, including tips, bonuses, and overtime pay:

  • Less than 1 year of experience – $60,678
  • 1 to 4 years of experience – $76,754
  • 5 to 9 years of experience – $96,943
  • 10 to 19 years of experience – $114,981
  • Over 20 years of experience – $118,139

While this position offers a substantial entry-level salary, pay dramatically increases as you gain work experience. 

How Do You Become an Organizational Change Manager?

The qualifications for organizational change management positions vary among companies and positions, but managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas, according to ZipRecruiter:

Earn your degree in business administration at Alliant University today!

What Skills Do You Need as an Organizational Change Manager?

Beyond a bachelor’s degree, there are personality traits and skills that show you’re fit for the job, including:

  • Strong communication skills – Communication is a must, especially when large transformational changes are taking place. If you are a calm and confident speaker and an active listener, these are great skills for an organizational change manager.
  • Timeliness and organization – Being able to work on a deadline, keep things moving according to plan, and stay organized are key parts of the job.
  • Paying close attention to detail – This kind of work is detail-oriented because small oversights can amount to massive speed bumps in your plans. Being thorough means you aren’t focused only on avoiding risks, but have a plan to mitigate, handle, and solve them if they arrive.
  • Problem-solving and decision-making skills – Whenever you’re in a position of leadership, you have to be comfortable with the fact that other people will turn to you to make decisions in high-pressure situations.
  • Task delegation without micromanaging – One of the most important skills of all is to be able to give instructions and delegate tasks to others. Not only that, but you also must supervise without micromanaging, trusting your colleagues to do good work.

In addition to these strengths, showing proof through relevant work experience and degree specialization are great ways to gain the knowledge and reputation of someone capable of getting the job done. Successful change management professionals know that leading change requires both strategy and diligence. 

Why Is Organizational Change Management Important?

When a person, organization, or business is faced with change, the ways in which things are handled is incredibly important. In order to experience positive growth and ongoing success, you have to adapt efficiently and effectively.

If transitions have a lot of bumps along the way or are expensive in terms of time, energy, and resources, it can affect more than an organization’s future goals. It can immediately change the work environment, lowering employees’ morale, and damage business by leaving customers dissatisfied. 

This recent global migration to work-from-home offices has shown how companies can dramatically change in a matter of weeks. Without someone in charge of the transition, a lot of questions can go unanswered, and a lot of inefficiencies arise in the course of a strategic change.

Companies understand the value of organizational change management and want focused, trustworthy people to take charge of the moments that can make or break their business.

Becoming an Organizational Change Manager

If working in the field of organizational change management is something you’re interested in, the easiest path to get there is through education. With online and in-person schooling, getting an education has never been easier.

At Alliant International University, you can participate in accredited academic programs and choose from Bachelor of Science degrees such as Project Management, Information Technology and Information Systems, or Business Administration.

With Alliant, you’ll gain hands-on, real-world work experience and have the opportunity to fast-track your way to a lifelong career you’ll love.



What will your impact be?

Return to Top