What Is Organisational Change Management?

Published on:

August 19, 2019

People serving in a company canteen.

Post Summary:

  1. There are seven main types of Organisational Change Management.
  2. These forms of change management are in one of three camps: top-down, bottom-up and agile change management.
  3. Bottom down change management tends to be inclusive and is employee-driven.
  4. Top-down change management is less inclusive and can be divisive.
  5. The most flexible customer-driven change management option is Agile Change Management which happens in real-time.

What is Organisational Change Management?

When companies make changes to how the business runs, the type of business it is or when it acquires or merges with another company, these changes often have profound effects on the employees.

Change management is there to try to mitigate the impact on organisations and their staff and help the change be absorbed into the company culture as painlessly as possible. Effective organisational change management is the key to business success, as the CMI would like to show us.

There are 7 main types of organisational change management, which we'll cover in more depth below.

Evolutionary Change and Revolutionary Change Management

Evolutionary change, as its name indicates, is formed by many minute changes over time. It is the most typical type of change that organisations experience and arises through the process of natural selection.

The continuous minute changes are often too small to see individually but organisations will respond and changeover time to these small changes and when viewed later, the cumulative change can be significant.

Conversely, Revolutionary Change Management is at the opposite end of the spectrum and is an altogether more bloody affair.

Change that is forced on to an organisation can sometimes be welcomed but often it is the opposite. It is generally characterised by huge power shifts within the organisation and can come with cataclysmic results.

This type of change tends to happen quickly and is dictatorial in style. The decision has been made and now it is for the organisation and its employees to implement with little interaction or discussion.

Developmental Change Management

Developmental Change Management is a form of directed or planned change. With Developmental Change, it is the process of improving what a company is currently doing.

This need to improve a procedure or process may come as the result of an increase in sales that necessitates improved billing or order tracking processes or perhaps a manual system should be changed to an automated system to streamline the process.

However, these incremental changes can also be a good way to not only improve systems but to overhaul areas of a business that aren’t working as well as expected and need to be improved and modernised to move the company forward and build on previous successes.

Developmental change tends to be a process of continuous small improvements that causes limited controversy and resistance amongst employees and is non-disruptive.

Transitional Change Management

The second type of directed change management is Transitional Change. This type of change is larger than developmental change and will cause disruption to the business and to its employees.

Transitional change is about replacing something that already exists with something that will be regarded as new. This change tends to happen when a business recognises the need to change to remain competitive.

Examples of transitional change would include company-wide, reorganisations, simple acquisitions that need to be integrated into the company, the creation of new products or services to replace old ones that are no longer appropriate.

Transitional change has a fixed purpose whether that is to eliminate waste or to boost revenue.

This form of change will tend to impact job functions and company culture as well as internal relationships and will involve substantial retraining of employees.

Transformational Change Management

Transformational Change Management is the third type of directed change and is the most dramatic and will significantly change an organisation. This type of change is not something that an organisation will undergo frequently.

This change typically happens when an organisation changes markets or opts to sell completely different products or services. Alternatively, it may occur if the organisation radically overhauls its technology or new leadership and management overhauls the structure and culture.

This type of change will cause significant disruption to both the employees and to the business itself. The team who are managing this change process will need to walk a fine line and significant skill and expertise will be required to reach a successful conclusion.

When this process has been completed the organisation will no longer be recognisable as the company they once were.

Bottom-Up Change Management

Bottom-up change is driven by the employee. This type of change management is inclusive, improves engagement and ultimately the success of the change project.

By asking questions of employees at the outset the management and board can get a clear understanding of the problems and issues they are facing doing their jobs and will then be in a better position to frame how a new software implementation or proposed process change can improve working conditions.

One additional point to note with this style of change management is that it is not dictatorial so has a far higher success rate than more traditional top-down styles. If a company’s employees are involved in change from the outset, they will often not just accept the process but fully engage and drive the process forward to a successful conclusion.

People value inclusion but will often rebel against imposed changes that they have no control over and that don’t have a positive impact on the way they work.

Agile Organisational Change Management

The definition of agile is quick moving and nimble. In respect to change management, it also includes flexibility and leanness.

Leanness? In this context, it is about keeping the processes as simple and straight forward as possible and not planning or modelling too far ahead.

Agile change management came out of combining agile software development principles and the best practices of change management.

It focuses on people first, individuals and interactions rather than on processes and tools. This makes an agile approach very customer-driven.

Using this approach there is no pre-determined plan, you focus on flexibility and being able to react quickly as a situation develops or changes.

Collaboration is a crucial feature with constant contact with customers and other team members a vital element that promotes flexibility and responsiveness.

Using the agile method of change management you are often working in the moment and without necessarily a clear view of the endpoint or the way to get there.

Additionally, agile change management looks for a lean solution without the bells and whistles that create inefficiencies.

Agile Change Management is a flexible customer-driven approach that focuses on providing a fit for purpose solution in real-time, removing inefficiencies and collaborating continuously throughout the project.

Change is Inevitable

In business, change is inevitable at some point. Your most important role as a leader is managing that change so that its impact on both your business and employees is as minimal as possible and the new iteration of your company can continue to grow and prosper.

To manage change effectively from within an organisation is complicated and fraught with problems. External change management experts can help streamline the process, which is where we come in. Awardaroo specialise in change management, helping create lasting, positive changes across your entire business. Find out more.

About Paul Freudenberg

Paul Freudenberg is a business productivity coach and consultant with a focus on operational excellence delivering improved profitability and business performance, and Founder of Awardaroo in 2005. Paul has set the mission of Awardaroo to help raise UK Business Productivity from one of the lowest in the G7 to one of the highest by 2030. Connect on LinkedIn

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