Practitioners have the challenge and opportunity of creating an effective change management strategy that illustrates the importance, reasoning, and urgency for the proposed changes. Within this post we will discuss the unfreezing, implementing, and refreezing phases within an organization. Furthermore, we’ll hit home proposed communication approaches to creating buy-in, and minimizing resistance of change. Let’s get started.
The Unfreezing Stage: This is the stage where practitioners need to tread cautiously. Here, depending on the level of change that will occur, practitioners need to show respect toward the current system, however, balance that respect for the need of the proposed system. Otherwise, change receipts would see little to no value of the proposed change initiatives. Basically, practitioners need to paint the picture why the proposed change is better than the current system, how it will be done, and why it will be done. Creating the understanding, connection, and vision for the new changes is part of the Energy Principle. The idea behind the Energy Principle is that the reasoning of the new changes should create the acceptance, motivation, and energy needed to implement the new changes.
The Implementing Stage: This is the stage where change initiatives will be carried out. The assumption prior to this stage is that management created value in the Unfreezing Stage that established support for the proposed changes and prepared the change recipients of what is to come. The “what it is to come” is this stage. Here change recipients will be implementing the initiatives. Practitioners need to know the ins and outs of these initiatives. Doing so builds confidence and respect from the change receipts. Think of a time when you were asked to carry out an initiative, but had no clue where to begin, how did it make you feel not knowing what to do to make it happen. Don’t do that as a practitioner. Rather lead the way with specifics about the what, how, when, and why aspects of initiatives. This will help you to help your change agents to carry out the initiatives according to plan. Which will ultimately contribute to consistency and follow through. In terms of communication deliver relevant to this aspect, do what fits best with your organization, department, or team. Don’t assume that a written Memo will be the best method. Think like your employees, what would minimize stress and build clarity and enthusiasm toward the initiatives? Perhaps, a town hall meeting, training sessions, change intranet resource center, critical path management chart, or something would build enthusiasm rather than resistance.
The Refreezing Stage: This is the stage in which whatever practices and initiatives that were presented in the implementing stage become the new way of doing things. Like many things within life, in order to get something to stick there needs to be structure to support it. During this stage, the new systems, attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors toward the organizational change are internalized. The key is to create a system that is proud, excited, and works towards carrying out the new initiatives according to plan. The more affirmation and acknowledgement of carrying out the initiatives according to plan will inspire employees to continue on that path. This decreases reverting back to the previous way of doing things. Perhaps, practitioners may want to implement a reward system that aligns with the new initiatives to recognize, celebrate, and continue on the path of least resistance.
The bottomline, people are hesitant to change. Especially poorly planned change initiatives. Practitioners have the responsibility to create a structured change strategy that fits with the unfreezing, implementing, and refreezing phases of change. Furthermore, practitioners that can create initiatives that fit with those phases have a greater ability to establish enthusiastic buy-in, rather than resistance. This helps to harness the ability and viability of sustainable change . That being stated, if you would like to discuss change management concepts to minimize resistance and increase enthusiasm within your organizational change situation, certainly feel free to reach out.
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by Katie Doseck, Ph.D.
Chief Visionary and Strategic Ace Up Your Sleeve | Viral Solutions LLC