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What is Change Management, and How Does it Work?

As John Maxwell famously said, "Change is inevitable. However, growth is optional." Change is indeed unavoidable. Our organisations and businesses all go and must go through changes. Whether it's eliminating old workflows or restructuring teams and responsibilities, organisations must consistently change and adapt for continuous improvement.

However, how can we cater to change without negatively affecting the systems, outputs and employees? How can employees adapt to necessary changes? In this article, we'll help you understand what change management is and how it works. By managing change, your organisation can achieve its goals with the least stress possible.

So, what is Change Management?

So, what is Change Management?

According to the American Society for Quality, "Change Management is defined as the methods and manners in which a company describes and implements change within its internal and external processes." 

Managing change requires applying tools, processes and principles to implement change effectively. The primary purpose of Organisational Change Management is to facilitate successful transitions within an organisation by effectively planning, implementing, and managing changes to achieve the desired outcome while minimising disruptions and mitigating risks. 

Change Management Definition in Project Management

Change management in project management is defined as the controlling and handling of both change and people for successful implementation. Most often, project managers implement these change strategies.

Project managers initially identify the need for change and assess the potential impact of proposed changes on project scope, schedule, budget, and resources. They then develop a change management plan. Upon obtaining approval from relevant stakeholders, project managers oversee the implementation of approved changes, monitor progress and communicate updates throughout the process. 

They evaluate the effectiveness of changes (by using key performance indicators), soliciting feedback and making adjustments as necessary to ensure project success while minimising disruptions.

Why do organisations need to manage change?

Why do organisations need to manage change?

Humans inherently hate change. However, when we embrace and effectively manage change, organisations increase project success rates and prevent money and time losses. On the other side, when we fail to manage change, we experience painful and costly consequences.

For one, without proper change management, employees may resist or oppose changes due to fear, uncertainty, or lack of understanding. This resistance can lead to conflicts, productivity losses, and project failures, undermining the success of change initiatives.

Failure to adapt to changing market conditions or customer needs can also result in missed opportunities for growth, innovation, or competitive advantage. Organisations that are slow to embrace change risk being left behind by more agile and responsive competitors.

Inefficient or ineffective change management processes can waste time, effort, and resources. Projects may overrun budgets, miss deadlines, or deliver suboptimal results due to poor planning, communication, or execution of changes.

Lastly, changes that are not properly managed may result in non-compliance with legal or regulatory requirements. This can expose your organisation to fines, penalties, or legal action. It can further tarnish the organisation's reputation and jeopardise its operating license.

Benefits of Change Management

Benefits of Change Management

Though difficult, with change management, you can get the best out of transitions and change. Some of the benefits of a well-implemented change management strategy include:

  • Smoother Transition: Change management ensures a seamless transition during organisational changes. This reduces disruptions and enhances the overall effectiveness of the implementation process.
  • Overcome Resistance: One of the principles of change management is clear communication. When the need for change is communicated correctly, employees and teams will lose the fear and resistance to change.
  • Innovation and Growth: Organisations must embrace change to foster innovation and achieve growth. This could involve introducing new products or services, implementing more efficient processes, or adopting emerging technologies to stay ahead in the market.
  • Organisational Effectiveness: Changes in organisational structure, processes, or systems are often necessary to enhance overall effectiveness. Efficiently managed changes can lead to streamlined operations, improved productivity, and better utilisation of resources.
  • Employee Engagement and Retention: Employees thrive in environments supporting growth and development. Effective change management promotes higher employee morale, job satisfaction, and retention rates. It also helps implement desired skills of the employees.

Change management also helps organisations stay compliant with evolving regulations. By implementing change, organisations can avoid legal and operational risks.

Types of Organisation

Types of Organisation

Organisational change can manifest in various forms. These are the primary types of organisational change:

  • Structural Change:This involves altering the organisational structure, such as reorganising departments, creating new teams, or changing reporting lines to improve efficiency.

  • Technological Change:Implementing new technologies or upgrading existing systems to enhance productivity, improve processes, or stay competitive. This may include adopting new software, automation solutions, or digital platforms.

  • Strategic Change:Strategic change involves realigning the organisation's strategic direction, goals, or business model to respond to external pressures or capitalise on emerging opportunities.

  • Process Change:Process change focuses on improving or redesigning internal processes and workflows to increase efficiency, reduce costs, or enhance quality. This may involve implementing lean principles, reengineering processes, or adopting new methodologies such as Agile or Lean Six Sigma (Insert link on Lean Six Sigma guide once published).

  • People Change:People change focuses on developing employees' capabilities, skills, and competencies to support organisational objectives. It may include training and development initiatives, performance management systems, or succession planning to ensure the workforce is equipped to adapt to change.

  • Incremental Change vs Transformational Change: Organisational change can also be classified based on scope and magnitude. Incremental change involves minor adjustments to existing practices or processes, often aimed at enhancing efficiency or addressing specific challenges. Conversely, transformational change involves fundamental alterations to the organisation's structure, strategy, culture, or operations. This is typically driven by significant shifts in the external environment or strategic imperatives.

Change Management Models

Change Management Models

Several models for change management are commonly used in organisations to facilitate successful transitions and achieve desired outcomes.

  • Kotter's 8-Step Change Model

    Developed by John Kotter, this model outlines a structured approach to leading change effectively. The eight steps include creating a sense of urgency, forming a powerful guiding coalition, developing a vision and strategy, communicating the vision, empowering employees for broad-based action, generating short-term wins, consolidating gains and producing more change, and anchoring new approaches in the organisational culture.

  • Lewin's Change Management Model

    Psychologist Kurt Lewin proposed this three-stage model based on unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. The unfreezing stage involves preparing individuals and organisations for change by creating awareness and overcoming resistance. The changing stage focuses on implementing new behaviours, processes, or structures. Finally, the refreezing stage aims to reinforce and stabilise the change, embedding it into the organisational culture. 

  • ADKAR Model

    The ADKAR model, developed by Prosci, provides a framework for understanding individual change at a personal level. It consists of five sequential elements: Awareness of the need for change, Desire to participate and support the change, Knowledge of how to change, Ability to implement new skills and behaviours, and Reinforcement to sustain the change. 

  • McKinsey 7-S Model

    The McKinsey 7-S model focuses on seven factors influencing organisational effectiveness and change: Strategy, Structure, Systems, Shared Values, Skills, Style, and Staff. According to this model, successful change occurs when these elements are aligned and mutually reinforcing.

  • Prosci's Change Management Process

    Prosci's change management process is a research-based methodology for managing change effectively. It involves three phases: preparing for change, managing change, and reinforcing change. Each phase includes specific activities and tools to assess readiness, develop plans, implement interventions, and evaluate outcomes.

Principles of a Successful Change Management Strategy

Principles of a Successful Change Management Strategy

A successful change management strategy is built on the core principles of change management. These are also often referred to as the 4Cs of change management.


Effective communication is essential throughout the change process. Leaders must communicate openly and transparently about the reasons for change, the intended outcomes, and how it will impact stakeholders. Regular communication helps build trust, manage expectations, and address concerns.


Involving stakeholders in the change process through consultation is critical for gaining buy-in and commitment. Project managers should seek input from employees, customers, and other relevant parties to understand their perspectives, concerns, and ideas. By consulting stakeholders, you can identify potential challenges, generate creative solutions, and build a sense of ownership and engagement in the change effort.


Collaboration involves working together across teams, departments, and levels of the organisation to plan, execute, and support change initiatives. Collaboration promotes goal alignment, resource and expertise sharing, and collective problem-solving. By fostering collaboration, organisations can leverage diverse perspectives, build consensus, and overcome obstacles to change more effectively.


Lastly, achieving consensus is the last factor for successful change implementation. Leaders must work to build consensus around the goals, objectives, and strategies for change, ensuring that everyone is aligned and committed to the change effort. Consensus-building requires active engagement, open dialogue, and a willingness to address concerns and reconcile differences to create a shared vision for change.

By embracing these principles, organisations can develop robust change management that minimises resistance and increases the likelihood of successful implementation.

How to implement change management?

How to implement change management?

According to John Kotter's Eight-Step Process for Leading Change, implementing change involves the following steps:

  • 1. Create a Sense of Urgency

    The first step is establishing a compelling reason for change by creating a sense of urgency among stakeholders. This involves communicating the need for change and highlighting the risks and opportunities associated with maintaining the status quo.

  • 2. Form a Powerful Coalition

    Next, leaders must build a coalition of influential individuals who support the change initiative and can help drive it forward. This coalition should include key stakeholders from across the organisation with the authority, expertise, and credibility to lead change efforts.

  • 3. Create a Vision for Change

    You need to develop a clear and inspiring vision for the desired future state that outlines the benefits and outcomes of the change.

  • 4. Communicate the Vision

    Communication is critical to ensuring all stakeholders understand and embrace the vision for change. Project managers and leaders must consistently communicate the vision through various channels and platforms, providing context, rationale, and updates to keep stakeholders informed and engaged.

  • 5. Empower Broad-Based Action

    You should empower employees at all levels to take action and contribute to the change initiative. This involves removing barriers, providing resources and support, and fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation, and accountability.

  • 6. Generate Short-Term Wins

    Celebrating and recognising early successes is essential for maintaining momentum nd building confidence in the change process. You should identify quick wins and milestones demonstrating progress towards the vision and motivate stakeholders to continue their efforts.

  • 7. Consolidate Gains and Produce More Change

    Once initial successes are achieved, leaders should consolidate gains by reinforcing new behaviours, processes, and systems. This involves embedding change into the organisation's culture and practices, addressing resistance or challenges, and building momentum to drive further change.

  • 8. Anchor New Approaches in the Culture

    Finally, you must ensure the changes become a permanent part of the organisation's culture and working methods. This requires embedding new behaviours, values, and norms into the organisation's systems, processes, and leadership practices to sustain long-term change.

Change Management Certifications and Courses

Change Management Certifications and Courses

Certifications and courses are valuable assets for professionals looking to enhance their change management skills. At e-Careers, we offer change management certifications that are accredited with APMG International.


Change can be less stressful and nerve-wracking with effective change management. When you successfully manage change, you promote organisational growth and sustain success. If you're a project manager, change manager, or business leader, getting the right training is necessary to succeed in change management.

Develop excellent skills and get the required knowledge to implement changes successfully. Top industry experts facilitate our online change management courses. Additionally, our online virtual classroom training will ensure that you don't need to take much time off work or spend months studying. We'll get your certificate in just over 4 days.

Get the confidence that you need to facilitate change. Reach out to us either through a call at +44 (0) 20 3198 7700 or by email at ask@e-careers.com.


What are the 4Cs in change management?

Successful change management relies on its basic framework, which includes communication, consultation, collaboration, and consensus.

What are the hindrances of change management?

Factors like change resistance from employees, insufficient leadership support, inadequate communication, limited resources, cultural barriers, lack of training, and unclear goals can all hinder the successful implementation of change.

What are some certifications and courses for change management?

We provide online training for those who want to pursue change management. We offer APMG Change Management Foundation & Practitioner and CHAMPS2 Business Change Foundation & Practitioner Training. We deliver these trainings through our virtual classrooms.

What are some jobs for change management?

Getting certifications in change management can qualify you as a Change Manager, Change Consultant, HR Professional or Organisational Development Specialist.

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