Nowadays, the management of organizational change continues to gain relevance, especially in an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. Changes are no longer rare events so, in order to survive, organizations need clear strategies to react and adapt more quickly to continuously and constantly changing environmental conditions (Schiessler, 2013). Effective change strategies are not only essential for survival, but it is also necessary to maintain profitability and to remain competitive. Researchers from Towers Watson's found that strong change management practices allow organizations to outperform their industry peers. Organizations that successfully navigate change are able to overcome obstacles and continue to grow as they transform existing processes and introduce new tools.
However, change is not always easy and companies often face several challenges during change processes. One major challenge is the resistant attitude of stakeholders as change can cause feelings of tension, nervousness, uncertainty, and confusion. People are afraid of the unknown (Aninkan, 2018; Galli, 2018). Gravenhorst et al. (2003) stated that the occurrence of change resistance is strongly linked to badly designed and managed change processes and poor leadership. Also, further findings revealed that change processes fail because organizations are unable to successfully implement them (Aninkan, 2018).
The role of the human factor should be the main focus during change considerations because the implementation of change depends on the active support of employees. Since every person has their own needs, ideas and experiences, there can be no universal guide on how to successfully manage change. It is rather a complex undertaking that must take the individuals, organizational structures, and the company culture into account (Lauer, 2019). To ensure the success of your change projects, it is therefore of great significance that your company’s workforce is informed of the changes, convinced of the value, involved in the approach, and committed to its success.
To gain further insight on how your company’s employees experience changes and to build out data-driven change management strategies, we recommend using Leapsome’s Change Management Survey. The 22 items (see listed below) were constructed based on Hiatt’s (2006) ADKAR change management model. The abbreviation ADKAR stands for the five categories: Change Awareness, Change Desire, Change Knowledge, Change Ability, and Change Reinforcement. The framework focuses on the individuals themselves and which conditions need to be provided to lay the foundation for new behaviors. The key assumption is that on the individual level, five states must be achieved before a successful organizational outcome can be expected. The first one focuses on the employees' awareness of the need for change, including the nature of the change and the risks of not changing. Moreover, the desire to support and participate in the change is needed, as the intrinsic motivation of employees leads to commitment and engagement in the project. Researchers align, that without the employees' willingness or desire to change from employees, the process to implement change will almost always fail (Galli, 2018). Next to the awareness and desire to change, the employees need to be educated, so they have sufficient knowledge on how to change and furthermore the ability to implement the change. And lastly, reinforcements that lead to the individual's benefitting from the change are relevant to sustain the change (Hiatt, 2006).
In addition to Hiatt’s (2006) ADKAR framework, the categories Change Safety and Change Endurance were designed in order to gain a full picture of your employee's attitude and feelings during the change process. Due to the fact that changes can cause anxiety (Aninkan, 2018) items were generated that focus on if the change is estimated to be safe for the employees. As organizations face several changes to stay compatible in the market, it is of great significance to measure the change endurance of employees.
By being aware of how your employees think about the change process within the organization, and by improving readiness for change, you can enhance their adaptation mechanisms. As an example, you could build out the employees' competencies to face future uncertainties (Asikhia et al., 2021).
- I am aware of [Companys] (new) goals and strategies set by the management.
- I am aware that [Company] is pursuing a new strategy that will require changes.
- I am confident that the changes will enable me to perform better in the future.
- This change allows me to develop new skills.
- The change has a positive effect on my future career plans.
- The changes made in the organization are necessary.
- I believe the changes are good for [Company].
- Management effectively communicates changes before they get implemented.
- I am included in the process to understand the effect of the changes.
- Which things about the organizational change would you like to have more explanation on?
- I understand the changes that will occur at [Company].
- In total, I think that [Company] is able to handle the change.
- I feel the change project is well planned and not over rushed.
- My manager helps me to adapt to the new process.
- What can [Company] do to make the change process smoother for you?
- I have sufficient skills and trainings to make the changes work.
- I am willing to contribute to the new project and make the change successful.
- I am sure that the new processes will lead to a better working environment.
- Despite the changes and new processes, I am confident about my job security.
- I can address concerns regarding the new process, and they are being considered/heard.
- Although many changes have taken place in [Company] and the work processes, I am motivated to support further changes.
- I accept that organizational changes will affect my daily work and that I will need to adapt.
To evaluate the results, we recommend using several analytic tools you can find in Leapsome’s survey module. Further guidance on how to effectively use the tools can be found in this article.
Based on the findings from your surveys, you have the chance to gain insight into how your employees perceive the changes in your company. The results provide you with perfect indications of how you can take action (for example, using action items) to gain your employee's support during change processes while supporting them.
Handling the change and focussing on the human factor is a major determinant of organizational success. One strategy would be to include employees, enabling them to feel part of the change. Resistance is normal when employees feel left out and therefore, actively including their opinion on the change process could be one step further to success (Aninkan, 2018; Galli, 2018).
Aninkan, David Olusegun. “Organizational Change, Change Management, and Resistance to Change–an Exploratory Study.” European Journal of Business and Management 10.26 (2018): 109-117.
Asikhia, Olalekan U., et al. “Change Management and Organisational Performance: A Review of Literature.” International Journal of Advances in Engineering and Management (IJAEM), vol. 3, (2021). pp: 67-79
Galli, Brian Joseph. “Change Management Models: A Comparative Analysis and Concerns.” IEEE Engineering Management Review 46.3 (2018): 124-132.
Hiatt, Jeff. ADKAR: a Model for Change in Business, Government, and Our Community. Prosci, 2006.
Lauer, Thomas. “Change Management–Der Weg Zum Ziel.” Change Management. Springer Gabler, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2019. 3-12.
Schiessler, Bettina. “Die Rolle Der Organisationsentwicklung Im Change Management.” Psychologie der Wirtschaft. Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 2013. 589-611.