6 stages change management

The 6 Stages of Change Management 

Whenever you modify existing variables within a company, there’s also an increased level of risk. You can control the risk, however, by carefully reviewing and implementing your team’s work to avoid unintended consequences. 

Whether you’re worried about performance issues or simply want to improve an internal process, managing changes is the key to success. Follow the six stages of change management to ensure a smooth, effective transition for organizational changes. 

Noticing a Need for Change 

The first stage of change management is noticing a need for change. This typically involves modifications to internal processes or equipment, although the change can be for any major variable. 

During this stage of the process, collect information on the proposed change. Why is it necessary? What factors contribute to the underlying issue or inefficiency? What impact should the change have on the business? 

Do a thorough analysis to figure out the answers to these questions. Then, create a proposal for making the change happen. Once the proposal is ready, it can move on to the review stage. 

Reviewing Potential Changes 

In the second stage of change management, changes go through a review process. The purpose of reviewing changes first is to make sure that they won’t have an adverse impact on the company. It’s also important for avoiding work on a project you’ve done before. The last thing you want to do is waste time on something that you already know doesn’t work. 

When you’re going through your review, try to answer these questions: 

  • What are the short and long-term impacts of this change on quality, safety, productivity, compliance, profit, etc.? 
  • Will this change trigger any additional changes to the process? 
  • What kind of monitoring will we need to do once this change goes into effect? 
  • Is the change big enough to go through the change management process or can we implement it immediately? 

The goal of the review is to approve the change so your team can start working on it. If you find out that the change is not worth the work or would have a negative impact on the business, this step allows you to scrap projects before you waste resources on them. 

Creating a Plan 

Once you’re ready to move forward with a change, the next step is to create a plan for how you’ll achieve it. Your plan should include the goal of the change, the resources you’ll need, and a timeline for completion. Here are the basics of this stage: 

  • Create a change management team for the project. 
  • Share your change management plan with everyone involved. 
  • Order any supplies or equipment you’ll need for implementation. 
  • Hire any third-party services that will contribute to the project. 
  • Come up with contingency plans for potential setbacks. 

The planning stage of change management also involves communicating with everyone who’s relevant to the project. This may include senior managers and frontline employees in addition to the implementation team. If you’re making changes to a customer-facing process or product, it’s also important to give them advance notice of the changes. 

Make sure your message is consistent across all communications. You’ll most likely have to draft communications beforehand, especially if they’re likely to raise a lot of questions from recipients. 

Implementing the Change 

The next stage of change management is to implement the change. This is often the most time-consuming step in the process. It involves assigning owners to all the action items needed to complete the change and monitoring their progress. 

Don’t be afraid to add new tasks as they come up. Remember: the whole point of the change management process is to take your time and do it right. Rushing during implementation is the surest way to fail. 

It’s critical that you document the actions your team takes during this stage. That’s because if you run into an issue, you can easily trace it back. Having detailed change management records is also a good practice for any regulatory audits in the future. 

Throughout the implementation stage, make sure your team has the resources they need. Adjust deadlines if you have to so you know you have enough time to do everything right. 

Verifying System Readiness 

After finishing the implementation tasks, the next stage is to verify that the change is ready to roll out. At this point, you should: 

  • Train employees in new equipment, procedures, etc. 
  • Prepare customers for the change 
  • Conduct final reviews of process inputs to eliminate any remaining issues 
  • Establish procedures for maintaining the change once it’s in place 

No matter how confident you are in the effectiveness of the change, always take these measures to prepare for complications. Giving customers a warning, for example, reduces the potential impact of a malfunction once you fully roll out a change. 

Rolling Out the Change 

The last stage of change management is to formally roll out the change and close the loop on the project. Once you’ve introduced the new process, equipment, etc., you’ll need to monitor it for a while. This is to ensure that it’s effective and doesn’t cause any problems. 

As you monitor the change, make adjustments when necessary. Encourage your employees to take an active role in reporting any issues they come across. You’ll need their input for long-term success. 

You’ll also want to formally close any unfinished paperwork related to the change. Finalize the details of your project documentation.