The following change management models can be used to aid transition of culture. Each has their pros and cons, and along with the Change Management Process, can be used to embed the correct requirements to address cultural change. The two frameworks that are discussed in this guide are Lewin’s 3 Stage Model, and the EASIER Model.
Alternatively known as the Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze model, Lewin’s 3 stage framework has many similarities to other alternative change management models like EASIER, [ADKAR], and Kotters, in that it provides a step-by-step approach to organisational change.
Lewin proposes that changing organisational culture can be completed in three generic steps, namely:
This first stage of change involves preparing the individuals in the organisation for change and planning the transition through to acceptance. The key task, Lewin proposes, is to break down the status quo, which has been embedded over time.
It is critical at this stage, to create the vision and reason for change – facts work best. E.G. 25% loss in market share over the last 5 years, or profit margins have fallen by 10% over the last 18 months, etc, etc.
People must be able to see the need and urgency for change.
After the uncertainty created in the unfreeze stage, the change stage is where people begin to resolve their uncertainty and look for new ways to do things. People start to believe and act in ways that support the new direction and culture.
This, unfortunately, is a slow burn process. Regardless of whichever of the many change management models you favour, Change is messy and although this model simulates this as a simple linear approach, it isn’t – people are the hardest things to change. This transition from Un freeze to transformation doesn’t happen over night and very much depends on the individual.
The new ways of working are becoming practiced and people are embracing the new way of behaving and working. There is now clarity whereby roles and responsibilities are clear and the new culture must be institutionalised. This is done through positive reinforcement and feedback of the new way of working. This means making sure that the changes are used all the time; and that they are incorporated into everyday business. With a new sense of stability, employees feel confident and comfortable with the new culture.
In a similar approach to the other change management models, there are a number of steps that can be taken for each phase of the 3 stage model:
Another of the change management models is the EASIER approach. Developed by D.E. Hussey and introduced in his book ‘How to manage organizational change,’ he puts forward an additional framework, which captures the following elements in order to manage successful change. Again, you can see similarities as to other change management models:
E – Envision – Form a coherent view of the future: the vision, with which to inspire everyone and the end goal which will underpin the organisational goals. This vision should be strategic and holistic, which addresses the complete organisation.
A – Activate – Activate the followers: engage them and communicate the vision, ensuring that they fully understand where the organisation is and more importantly where it wants to be, and how it will get there. At this point, Hussey argues that Managers should allow participative support, encouraging ownership and commitment through choice. In order for the next phase of integration, this activate stage must be embedded. Hussey also states that if Activation is not achieved, then coercion may be the only choice, which can achieve the desired result, at the expense of Organisational morale.
S – Support – This section is all about empathy. The leader must inspire and support individuals through the change curve. Using [emotional intelligence] and seeing things in their eyes helps overcome barriers to change. Good [Leadership characteristics] are crucial at this stage, as support and inspiration will only come through credibility of the Leader.
I – Implement – This part is all about completing the many tasks and plans that must be closed in order to turn the vision into reality. The implementation stage must capture the following:
E – Ensure – This can be used to reinforce the vision and re-inspire in certain circumstances, however, it is often used to create complete certainty of the project, ensuring that monitoring and controlling processes are in place. In turn, the following are controlled:
R – Recognise – This step is all about giving feedback and recognising those involved in the project. Recognition can be positive or negative and should be used to re-enforce the vision again, setting standards along the way. Recognition can come in many forms, including promotion, a simple thanks or any other way, but it is important celebrate successes and positively enforce the desired ways of working and the closure of tasks.
The key to change, as many change management models depict is to provide a clear vision, communicate well, encourage commitment and participation from those affected by change, and lead the required behaviors.
Change management models are a good tool to use as a framework for successful change, and also as in the case of the EASIER and ADKAR Models, acts as a good checklist, in order to give the best possibility of success in a change project.
Remember, the change management models are a guide, so understand as many as you can, and then make your own judgement as to the which is the most useful.