Change management plans: definition, strategies and benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Change can be an important part of a company's growth. Implementing a change plan can help to transform an organisation's attitudes, behaviours, processes and workplace culture. Understanding more about change management strategies can help you to implement changes efficiently in the organisation that you work for. In this article, we define what a change management plan is, outline steps for creating a successful change management strategy, assess how it works, discuss its features and analyse its benefits.

What is a change management plan?

A change management plan or strategy is a series of actions an organisation intends to take to achieve a change in its business objectives. The plan can help an organisation minimise the impact of the change on the business, its customers, stakeholders and employees. It can also help reduce or avoid disruption in the organisation's workflow. An organisation may appoint a team to oversee the execution of the plan, especially if it's complex. A team may conduct a thorough analysis of the strategy and help determine steps the organisation can take to ensure a smooth transition following the change.

Related: Guide: what is strategic planning? (With benefits and steps)

How to create a change management plan

Here are five steps to follow when creating a management plan:

1. Establish clear goals

The first step in creating the plan is to define the objectives. When defining goals, it's important to:

  • understand the changes and their implications on the business, its employees and customers

  • develop a strategy to raise awareness of the changes, how to implement them and empower employees

  • define key performance indicators with clear metrics that explain the plan's efficiency and intended success

2. Appoint a change team

After defining the goals, the next step is to select a team to execute the plan. It's also important to identify the necessary resources to implement and maintain the changes. Before choosing a team, it may be important for the plan to have the support of the major stakeholders. The chosen members of the team typically have the skills and influence to oversee the execution of the plan.

They may also explain the plan to other organisation members and answer questions or objections. Before executing the plan, delegate duties to team members so they understand their roles. Some of the team members could be people in management and subject-matter experts.

3. Create the plan

The newly created plan provides a guide that defines the change process. To help improve the efficiency of the process, document the plan, the budget and the resources available. Here are some useful tips to follow when creating the plan:

  • Create a checklist of the actions: Highlight every task the organisation intends to accomplish and mention opportunities for communication and feedback.

  • Define a timeline for the process: Set a deadline for each action so that you can select a completion date for the initiative.

  • Use project management tools: These tools can make it easier to execute change management activities, and they may vary according to a company's industry and objectives. For example, you can use project management software to add various actions or tasks to the plan and assign them to team members.

4. Execute the plan

Once the plan is complete, it's ready for implementation. While executing the plan, various unforeseen issues may arise that require quick solutions to avoid impacting the process. People may resist change, but implementing training and education both before and after executing the plan can help to minimise any opposition.

An organisation can also benefit from creating a decision-making process to guide and empower employees. It may be important for the team to be transparent about the planning steps so that employees and other stakeholders know what to expect. Communication can be an essential part of executing the plan. It can help the organisation earn the stakeholders' trust and address any uncertainties or objections swiftly.

5. Reinforce the change

Once the organisation fully implements the plan, it can reinforce it to help the employees internalise it fully. Here are some approaches an organisation can use to support the change:

  • Offer positive incentives: Positive reinforcement can be an effective way of enforcing the change. Additionally, a company can implement strategies to help people to integrate the new way of doing things.

  • Work closely with the experts: Some people may have questions regarding the change and experts in change management can help reinforce support for the change through training. An organisation may train these experts to respond to queries from employees, which they then relay to top management.

  • Analyse and repeat actions: An organisation can explore the plan's impact to identify necessary modifications or adjustments. It may also repeat some of the steps to reinforce the training for the change.

How does change management work?

Companies usually implement a change management strategy in response to a new project or major initiative. The strategy usually includes a set of steps to execute that aim to internalise the change quickly and naturally. Typically, it includes the following three phases:

  • Preparing for the change: This may involve analysing the activities and strategies involved in implementing the change.

  • Implementing and managing the change: This may include integrating recent activities and practices into the company's operations.

  • Reinforcing the change: This involves analysing the change and any compliance mechanisms.

Related: Managing workplace change (with helpful tips and examples)

Features of a change management strategy

Change management procedures typically include the following features:

Objectives

Project goals are one of the key elements of a change plan, as they detail what the organisation intends to achieve. The plan may have two primary goals. The first is often to inform the organisation's employees and customers of the change and the second is to prepare and guide those employees who implement the change. A company can use various performance indicators to assess these two goals before and after implementing the change. Examples of performance indicators may include cost efficiency, time and customer satisfaction.

Related: Change management interview questions (with sample answers)

Communication strategy

Communication can be an important element in determining whether the change is necessary and, if so, implementing it. It can help inform employees, customers and stakeholders of the reasons behind the change and its objectives. Proper communication can help a business address any concerns from the participating parties or those it affects. It can also help to answer questions and let the organisation know of any aspect they may have left out. Proper communication can also mean that the flow of information is clear, consistent and present throughout the process.

Staff training

Training and educating the change management team can help them learn how to adapt, which can make the transition easier for them. The organisation can hold educational sessions to empower the group or organise special meetings to discuss the change and how it may affect the stakeholders. It may also be useful if the organisation offers post-training support to help employees apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills. The organisation may also provide training materials to help employees integrate the changes in the workplace.

Read more: The importance of managing a team through change (plus tips)

Resistance management

Resistance management can help the organisation manage any objections the stakeholders may have. People can take time to adjust to change, especially if they're familiar with the previous environment or culture. A successful change plan has strategies in place to promote resistance management. Some of the resistance management strategies an organisation may use include:

  • communicating the change

  • empowering employees to contribute

  • creating a feedback loop for the plan

  • forming a leadership team

Related: How to overcome resistance to change at work in 6 steps

What are the benefits of a change management programme?

A change management programme may be beneficial because it can help:

  • analyse why the change is necessary and its potential impact

  • reduce the time an organisation takes to implement a change

  • ensure the budget is ready for the change and quantify the various costs associated with it

  • manage any risks the change may expose

  • implement a communication strategy to inform those affected by the change, including customers, employees and stakeholders, to help them understand and support the process

  • promote internal cooperation so that participants understand their roles in the plan

  • maintain the operation's optimum productivity and efficiency during the change process

  • enhance confidence in a company's performance after the implementation of a change

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