Change can be said to be inevitable in any given aspect of life as it is known to be the only consistent phenomenon. However, in organisations and workplaces change is necessary to keep up with globalisation and maintain competitive advantage over rivalry companies, some drivers of change include, policy change, demographic change,mergers and acquisitions (Millar et al. 2004). For change to positively affect organisations, it might be concluded that it is important for it to be managed properly to avoid conflicts and confusion. The management of change could be safely assumed to be the role of the leaders in the organisation.
With diversity comes different personalities and possibly different reactions to change. According to Mullins, some individuals “actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change.” It also might be important for leaders to understand reasons employees might resist change before implementing them. Mullins also suggests that some reasons for resistance are; fear of the unknown, trust issues, lack of communication and security factors. There is also a possibility that the whole organisation might resist change which could be as a result “maintaining stability, past contracts or agreements, threats to power or influence” (Mullins 2013).
In the 1950’s, a psychologist by the name of Kurt Lewin created a change management model, which is referred to as “Lewin’s Change Management Model”. This model is still used in understanding and handling change processes in organisations today, mostly due to French and Bell’s addition to the model in 1985 (Connelly 2014) and it suggests that there are three stages of change:
- Unfreeze: This is the first stage which involves identifying and understanding the need for change, informing and preparing the employees and organisation as a whole to accept the change that is about to occur. Unfreezing is intended to strengthen the forces advocating for change; it could also weaken the defences of those who want things to stay the same. (Normadin, 2012)
- Transition: This is the process that involves encouraging behaviours that are necessary for the change to be successful and uproot any doubt that might still be among the employees. New strategies are also developed at this stage to ensure the progress of an organisation.
- Refreeze: This phase occurs by stabilizing and supporting the changes that have occurred. This is where changes have been implemented, accepted and are now permanent. Stability is back in the organisation and the changes become a norm. (Connelly, 2014)
While this model is said to be goal-oriented and successful, it has been criticised over time for assuming change has and end. In today’s global business world, change is widely recognised as being a constant and continuing phenomena for all organisations, albeit at a faster rate for some compared to others,” (Rees and Hall 2013).
Furthermore, French and Bell improved on Lewin’s model by including eight factors to help the process of Lewin’s original three stages. The image below explains which key factors fall under which stage.
A typical example of the use of Lewin’s change management model, is that of IBM, in 1992, was a once struggling global company and in crisis mode. They had a corporate loss of $4.9 billion, a significant reduction in their share price, and turnover of 107,000 employees (Weeks 2004: 1). In 1993, Lou Gerstner stepped in as Chairman and CEO and through successful change management and leadership revived the company. Applying Lewin’s Change Management Model to Gerstner’s style of management, the three stages are evident in IBM’s recovery.
In conclusion, there have been so many various change management models overtime but all still point out to informing the employees or every member of the organisation about it to enable them prepare for what is to come with the change, because some changes are not easy to adopt or adjust to. It might take a long period of time to inculcate change but also it can be said that there is always success in well managed change.
There is nothing wrong with change if it is in the right direction.
– Winston Churchill.
Connelly, M. (2014) The Kurt Lewin Change Management Model [online] available from <http://www.change-management-coach.com/kurt_lewin.html> [6 September 2014]
French, W. L., Kast, F. E. and Rosenzweig, J. E. (1985) Understanding Human Behaviour In Organizations, Harper and Row
Millar, C., Choi, C. and Chen, S. (2004) Global Strategic Partnerships between MNEs and NGOs: Drivers of Change and Ethical Issues. Business and Society Review, 109 (4), 395-414.
Mullins L. and Christy G. (2013) Management and Organisational Behaviour.10th edition, Harlow: Pearson
Mullins, L. (2010) Management and Organisational Behaviour, 9th Edition. Harlow: Pearson Higher Education
Normandin, B. (2012). Three Types of Change Management Models. [Online] The Fast Track. Available at: <http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/2012/08/28/three-types-of-change-management-models> [ 6 September 2014]
Rees, G. and Hall, D. (2013) Managing Change [online] available from <http://www.cipd.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/CF271BA5-49C7-4627-9D37-AC54AA158F3E/0/9781843983187_sc.pdf>[6 September 2014]
Weeks, J. (2004) Culture And Leadership At IBM [online] available from <http://www.insead.edu/facultyresearch/research/details_cases.cfm?id=14244>> [6 September 2014]