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Principles of Change Management


Address the “human side” systematically: People are innately resistant to change. Reengineering will change job positions and job descriptions for many employees and management needs to be prepared to alleviate potential struggles.

Start at the top: High-level executives need to set the tone at the top. If management has an optimistic attitude towards change, this will “trickle down” through every level of the company from executives to entry-level employees. Leaders should clearly define the new roles for employees as a result of the change, taking care to promote inclusion and ownership.

Involve every layer: A leader should be designated from every layer of the company to participate in training but also to provide input as a representative of their layer. This leader is responsible for bringing back all the training they received and the overall message of change to their individual layer.

Make the formal case: Management should present a formal case as to why change is absolutely necessary in anticipation of resistance and questioning. Include in this case the process in which change will occur to help employees see the big picture.

Create ownership: Management needs to take ownership of this change; they cannot be indifferent because it will reflect on their employees. They need to project enthusiasm and take responsibility for the changes.

Communicate the message: Employees need to be reminded of the purpose of the change process throughout. They can lose focus as to why they are changing, so from time to time a little clarity and inspiration may be necessary. This appreciation will require education; not just “how” to execute the new processes, but also “why” the new processes are important to the company and the employee. This understanding of “why” promotes feelings of ownership and enthusiasm for the change.

Assess the cultural landscape: Some company cultures are more amendable to change. The cultural landscape of a company needs to be evaluated to foresee problems and predict the motivation needed at each layer of the company. A culture not open to change or a workforce set in narrow, rigidly defined responsibilities will present greater challenges and may take longer, requiring more communication, training or call for a more patient strategy.

Address culture explicitly: Once the culture is mapped, management should come up with the culture that is best suited to accept the change process and the end product. Management should then direct changes in the current culture to create a culture that can use the end product the best.

Prepare for the unexpected: Companies need to realize that every phase of change is not going to be perfect. A strong change leader should be ready to deflate these situations and provide encouragement that everything will still turn out in the end.

Speak to the individual: Each employee needs to know what is expected out of them individually. Time should be spent with individuals, providing clarity and also definite rewards for achieving attainable changes.

Source: Aguirre, Calderone, & Jones