by J. Karluk | Oct. 16, 2023 | 5 Min Read

The relationship between change management and organizational change


As market conditions shift and technologies advance, change is an ever-present factor that businesses must embrace to stay competitive. But changing the status quo inevitably causes resistance, so companies need a change management plan to help stakeholders adopt the new direction.

What is organizational change management, and how can change management in the workplace lead to growth and sustainability? Research shows that 47% of organizations that integrate change management are more likely to meet their objectives compared to the 30% that don’t incorporate it at all.

In this blog, we define organizational change and why change management is important.

What is organizational change?

The evolving landscape of business necessitates change as a means not only to survive but to thrive and stay competitive.

Organizational change refers to how a company alters significant aspects of its operations to improve efficiency, enhance performance, or respond to market and industry demands. These may be changes to the company’s business strategy, operations, technology, or culture.

While every change scenario is unique, there are two primary types of organizational change:

Adaptive changes

Adaptive changes refer to gradual refinements often initiated to address known problems or challenges. These changes don’t fundamentally alter the foundational aspects of the organization. Tactical leaders (managers) are usually the ones to execute these changes and monitor the progress. Here are some examples:

  • Updating existing software: An organization updates its software to the latest versions to improve efficiency without significant changes to its functionality.
  • Adjusting policies: A company revises its remote work policy, allowing for more flexible hours.
  • Tweaking products: A smartphone manufacturer releases a new version of an existing model, but the overall product remains largely the same.

Transformative changes

Transformative changes are often sudden and dramatic responses to a major external challenge the business is facing. These changes involve large-scale transformations impacting an entire organization. Such shifts can be disruptive and jarring for employees, requiring a strategic leader to cast a new vision and gain buy-in. Here are some examples:

  • Adopting new technology: A company decides to switch to a new LMS with more capabilities that will improve the learning experience.
  • Shifting business models: A brick-and-mortar retail store decides to convert to an eCommerce model, closing all its physical locations.
  • Developing new products: A company retires an existing product and begins developing a completely new product.

Adaptive changes are less likely to rock the boat, while transformative changes inevitably do. When change is on the horizon, that’s when you turn to organizational change management (OCM).

What is organizational change management?

OCM is a structured approach used to transition a company from its current state to a desired future state. The ultimate aim of OCM is to maximize the collective efforts of all people involved in the change, whether adaptive or transformative, and to minimize resistance, ensuring the smooth implementation of new initiatives.

Key aspects of OCM:

  • Leadership Alignment: Getting buy-in from leadership is crucial. When leaders actively support the initiative, it can positively influence the broader organization to adopt the change.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Identifying the groups and individuals who will be affected by the change, understanding their needs and concerns, and keeping them engaged throughout the change process.
  • Communication: Developing a comprehensive communication plan to disseminate the right information at the right time. Effective communication ensures that all stakeholders understand the reasons for the change, the benefits of successful implementation, and the details of the change itself.
  • Training and Skill Development: Not all changes are intuitive. Often, new tools or procedures require training. Ensuring that employees have the necessary skills post-change is crucial for its success.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Creating channels for feedback helps organizations understand the challenges and concerns of those affected by the change. This can lead to proactive solutions and continuous improvement in the change process.
  • Success Metrics and Monitoring: Setting up criteria to measure the success of the change initiative and continuously monitoring progress against these metrics ensures that the organization is on the right track.

The nature of change management and organizational change can be varied—technological, structural, strategic, or cultural—but no matter the type of change, OCM ensures the organization's goals are met with minimal disruption.

Why change management is important in an organization

Change management isn’t about communicating a change and muscling through it; it’s about intentionally leading stakeholders through the transformation journey. Here are some benefits that convey the importance of change management:

  • Improved Success Rates: Change initiatives are more likely to meet or exceed their objectives when change management principles are applied, as they address both the technical and human sides of change.
  • Reduced Resistance: By actively managing change and involving stakeholders, resistance from employees can be minimized. Engaged employees are more likely to support and participate in the change process.
  • Faster Adoption: Effective change management can accelerate the speed at which employees adopt new systems, processes, or behaviors, reducing productivity dips during the transition.
  • Increased Morale and Retention: Employees who feel supported and equipped to handle change are less likely to experience demotivation or consider leaving the organization.
  • Risk Mitigation: Effective change management identifies potential risks early on and develops strategies to address or mitigate those risks. This helps reduce the costs associated with failed or inefficiently implemented change initiatives.
  • Strengthened Organizational Agility: Organizations that successfully manage change can adapt to future shifts in the market or industry more easily.

Ultimately, change management stabilizes organizations and positions them for long-term success in a dynamic business environment.

Lead through change with change management in the workplace

Change management training enables organizations to remain competitive by building a more agile, resilient, and engaged workforce. Are you ready to navigate change successfully in your organization?

At Unboxed Training & Technology, we equip leaders with the skills they need to manage changing organizations through custom change management training programs. They’ll learn how to set a positive example, build trust, address resistance, measure success, and respond in different scenarios when tensions are high.

Prepare your leaders to champion change today. Request a demo to learn more about how change management in the workplace can help stabilize your organization during a transition.

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