Change Management

This month’s assignment was all about change management.  Something I’m familiar with in relation to my role in HR, but I hadn’t really put it into an L&D context.  As its 15 years since I qualified in Human Resources, it’s been a while since I thought about models and theories relating to change. 

Much of the research led down the engineering / process route however there are some models that fit nicely with management and L&D.  So I thought I’d share some nuggets of information I’d gleaned.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), organisational change is a constant in many organisations, driven by a number of different forces including customers, markets and technology. Yet research shows that most change initiatives fail to get their intended outcomes and may even limit an organisation’s potential and its people. The effects of not managing change effectively can be devastating and long lasting, so it’s important that people professionals understand the issues and equip themselves with techniques to support change management initiatives.  There are many drivers of organisational change. These include:

  • Growth opportunities, especially new markets.
  • Economic downturns and challenging trading conditions.
  • Shifts in strategic objectives.
  • Technological developments.
  • Competitive pressures, including new entrants, mergers and acquisitions.
  • Customer or supplier pressure, particularly shifting markets.
  • Learning new organisation behaviours and skills.
  • Government legislation/initiatives.

Organisations need to introduce and manage change to achieve organisational objectives, maintaining the commitment of their people, both during and after implementation. Often, at the same time, they must also ensure that business continues as usual.

So it’s vital to consider carefully the way any change is managed, and those doing it are properly supported. While each change situation is unique, there’re still some common themes that will help give the change process the best chance of success.

Some of the most common methodologies are:

The Lewin Model – simple, yet powerful.  It involves three stages:

  • Unfreezing – This is the first stage of transformation, when the existing status quo “unfreezes” from its current state. It is necessary to “unfix” existing ideas, processes, and ways of operating before things can change.
  • Change – After unfreezing the current state of operations, the business can undergo transition. During this stage, new processes are introduced. Over time, they begin to accept the new methods and processes.
  • Refreeze – Finally, it is time to fix the new methods and processes. This requires reinforcement and training … otherwise the new changes may not stick.

The Lewin model was developed in the middle of the 1900s, but its insights are still valuable today.  Over time, his insights informed other change models, such as Kotter’s popular 8-step model for change.

Kotter’s 8-Step Model for Change – a well-known figure in change management.  In the 1990s, Kotter’s book, Leading Change, paved the way for this change model.  Its 8 steps follow a similar pattern to the Lewin model, but go into greater detail.

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a guiding coalition
  • Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  • Enlist a volunteer army
  • Enable action by removing barriers
  • Generate short-term wins
  • Sustain acceleration
  • Institute change

These steps are designed more as an action plan than the Lewin model. This makes it more practical and less theoretical. If you are looking for an action-oriented plan, then this is a good plan to follow.

The ADKAR model is a change management method developed by Jeff Hiatt. The acronym ADKAR stands for:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviours
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick

All of these steps are laid out in order of application.  First, change managers and leaders create awareness of the need for change. Then each following step is executed in order.  This model, like the two mentioned above, focuses on the people side of change. And, like the Kotter method, it is aimed at providing a practical roadmap.

DMAIC – At the business level, Six Sigma projects are the players in the overall game plan of a breakthrough performance improvement initiative.  The business perspective is that a Six Sigma project is the agent of action that executes the business strategy and returns the results.  This model follows a standardised and systematic method:

  • Define – set the context, key metrics, and objectives for the project.
  • Measure – capture the baseline performance and capability of the process or system being improved.  Identify all possible contributing factors.
  • Analyse – narrow the pool of possible factors down to the critical few.  Use data and tools to understand the “cause and effect” relationships in the process or system.
  • Improve – develop and validate the modifications that lead to an improvement in the process or system.
  • Control – establish plans and procedures to ensure the improvements are adopted and sustained.

During the course of this assignment I looked at tools to support planning for change.

A SWOT analysis is a grid method of recording the strengths, weakness opportunities and threats of your project / problem.

The 5 Whys is another common method. Simply put, it’s the process of asking “why” until you reach the route cause of a problem.  From there you can identify a solution that goes to the heart of the issue rather than just one element of it.

Within my role I have taken a huge step sideways from HR towards L&D.  We have a small team working on new material to roll out in the New Year but also reviewing the processes / training in the production halls and how we can achieve better performance and efficiencies.  It’s been a dream amongst the Senior Team to have official trainers in each area and in the last month we have taken a huge step forward my mapping out the roles ready to advertise in January.  We have managed to map out what the role is, the support network and the training needed.  Now all we need is applicants and support from management to maintain the new standards.

We’re ending a very difficult 2020 on a high.  We were fortunate to fall into the “essential workers” category and therefore safeguard 300 jobs.  However it’s not been easy to continue to recruit, train and retain staff.  We’ve had to move some staff to remote working and apprentices to remote learning.  Process training has been complicated with needing to be close to each other to demonstrate tasks and to hear instructions.  It hasn’t gone unnoticed how each and every member of our team has supported to the best of their ability, seeing us achieve our best ever volumes.

In additional to all that, the HR Team worked quietly to provide education and materials supporting the Better Health at Work Award and last week were notified that we have achieved the Bronze award, the highest you can get for a first year. 

We’re looking forward to 2021.  That old adage … “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.  We will find a way to continue working alongside Covid and ensure our staff develop their skills to support the business growth.  We have some exciting plans that should benefit everyone.

Until then, I wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas and a happy, healthy 2021.

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