Business Center

Change Management: The People Side of Change

change management

Authors: Jeffrey M. Hiatt and Timothy J. Creasey;
ISBN number: 978-1930885615
Posted: January 4, 2014
Summary by: Jocelyn Higashide, Process Improvement Intern

Book Review: Change is needed within an organization for it to survive competitively as a business, or for it to grow as anexpansive department agency.  Organizations don’t change, people do.

Why Manage Change?

Managing change increases the probability of successful change within the business. There are two ways to view change management:  Organizational and Individual.  Organizational change is from the top-down (business leaders looking down into the organization), while Individual change is driven from the bottom-up (management of change from the employee’s perspective looking up).

The two most common mistakes made are:

  1. Believing change management is someone else’s job
  2. Ignoring the people side of change until major resistance stalls a project or causes the project to fail

Theories and Principles of Change Management

Principle 1 - Senders and Receivers:  What a sender says and what a receiver hears are often two different interpretations.  Depending on the type of message, there are two types of “preferred senders.”  A direct supervisor communicates the messages that relate to personal impact, and an executive leader conveys the messages related to business issues or opportunities

Principle 2 – Resistance and Comfort The initial reaction to change is resistance.  Resistance can spread becoming a significant barrier to success, and if left unattended, it becomes a threat to the business.

Principle 3 – Authority for Change:  One of the most important pieces to a successful change is active executive sponsorship.  Executive sponsors receive support from “guiding coalitions” including a primary sponsor, executive-level peers, and key stakeholders.  Success increases with sufficient sponsorship on a project.

Principle 4 – Value Systems:  In the past, the values of control, consistency, and predictability allowed for a change to be simply implemented with a top-down approach.  However, shifts towards new values focus on accountability, ownership, and empowerment allowing employees to improve their productivity, and react towards the customers’ needs.

Principle 5 – Incremental vs. Radical Change:  Incremental changes occur over a longer time period and aim to improve key business areas or operations.  Radical change is immediate, dramatic change over a shorter period of time and often focuses on replacing a process that is broken or no longer applicable.

Principle 6 – The Right Answer is Not Enough:  Managers assume employee resistance can be overcome with the correct or “right” answer.  They presume employees accept “because it is the right thing to do,” as a response.

Principle 7 – Change is a Process The ADKAR change management model depicts the process for individual change, and individuals process change at their own pace.  The speed of change for the business is navigated by the employees through the speed of their own individual change processes.

Organizational Change Management

Phase 1 – Preparing for Change:
This phase is considered the “getting ready” period.  It includes activities to contemplate the best strategies for the change.  You, your team, and the business leaders will assess:  1) The scope of the change, 2) the readiness of the organization, 3) acquiring project resources and the strengths of the team, and 4) who the sponsors will be as well as how the sponsors will effectively begin to lead the change process (sponsorship model).  The overall “goal is to match the degree of sponsorship with the scope of the change” (p. 66).

Phase 2 – Managing Change:
This phase is designing the organizational change management plans and individual change management activities.  These include:  Communication Plans, Coaching Plans, Training Plans, Sponsor Roadmaps, and Resistance Management Plans.  This phase includes executing the plans, and implementing the change into the organization.

Phase 3 – Reinforcing Change:
After implementing changes using change management activities, this phase assesses the results, celebrates successes, and conducts “after-action” interviews.  This includes “transferring ownership of the change from the change management team to the organization,” which helps the change be fully adopted throughout the organization (p. 72).

Connecting Change Management and Business Improvement Methodologies

All business improvement methods and approaches use change management and integrate business improvement strategies with change management activities.  Blending the two processes can create a seamless integration to assist with the needs of the business.  If change management is started late, the result will feel more like damage control or “firefighting”.  It is in these situations where change management is more commonly used to fix current problems and prevent future difficulties.  Business improvements are more difficult to implement if change management is not utilized early on in the process.

Business Improvement Process Steps

Change Management Components

Problem or Opportunity Identification

Organization and Change Assessments

Project Planning and Team Formation

Team Readiness and Sponsor Preparation

Data Gathering and Business Solution Design

Awareness Building, Communications and Training

Process and System Development

Coaching, Feedback and Employee Involvement

Implementation and Measurement

Resistance Management

Table created from: Chapter 4, Connecting change management and business improvement methodologies

Individual Change Management

The objectives for individual change management include managing personalized transitions, focusing on targeted conversations for the most productive benefits, diagnosing gaps of ineffective planning, and identifying corrective actions during the change process. The ADKAR model is designed to help an individual process change, build a framework for communication, and be utilized as a diagnostic tool for identifying necessary corrective actions pertaining to the business changes.

awareness of the need for change
desire to support the change
knowledge of how to change
ability to demonstrate skills & behaviors
reinforcement to make the change stick


  • Awareness of the need to change – reasons for change and why they are necessary
  • Desire to participate and support the change – motivation or consequences for employees without the change
  • Knowledge about how to change – skills and knowledge needed to support the change
  • Ability to implement new skills and behaviors – training needed to be provided for the skills or knowledge for the change
  • Reinforcement to keep the change in place – incentives to preserve the change in the organization

Change Competency

As an organization faces perpetual changes over time, sponsors and owners begin to adapt previously successful models, and managers develop skills to successfully and easily implement change management techniques throughout the organization.  When an organization develops the skills and knowledge to react to constant change, and can be ready to embrace change, it has developed change competency.  “It is the organization’s ability to react to change over and over again,” not just one specific activity (p. 84).  When change competency is incorporated into the everyday culture and lifestyle of the business, it becomes part of the day-to-day operations at every level of the organization.  A major aspect in achieving change competency is front-line employees needing to understand “how they can succeed and perform in a constantly changing business world” (p. 85).

Organizational Change Competency:

  • Change management planning and strategies
  • Change management team structures
  • Change management roles
  • Organizational change management methodologies
  • Executive sponsorship strategies
  • Communication planning and delivery
  • Training and educational programs
  • Incentive and recognition programs

Individual Change Competency:

  • Methods for managing employee resistance
  • Models for individual change management
  • Coaching tools and techniques for helping employees navigate the change process
  • Activities and exercises for supervisors to use with their employees to manage change
  • Incentive and recognition programs


Change management is used for one reason:  To ensure business success.  Without change management, the risks of missing project objectives, losing productivity, or complete project failure all increase and threaten a business’s future.  Lacking effective, thorough, and timely change management is extremely hazardous to an organization.