4 types of change management & their roles in business transformation

Effective change management is key for the success of any business. An organization that refuses to adapt to market developments is destined for failure. Adaptability and the capacity to respond swiftly to changes in the market, technologies, and customer needs are vital for sustaining competitiveness. With this in mind, we explore 4 types of change management and their roles in business transformation: continuous change, proposed change, directed change, and organized change. This article will identify the distinctive characteristics of each of these changes.

Continuous change

Continuous organizational change management, often referred to as an evolutionary process, is a strategy of gradual and consistent transformation within the business. Unlike more radical types of modification, continuous change involves regular adjustments and gradual evolutions across various levels within the company, such as operations, processes, products, or services. This organizational change is also characterized by its unstructured nature, lacking a starting or ending point.

When is continuous change necessary?

Recognizing the need for continual change within a company usually arises from both internal and external factors that recognize the need for improvements. These factors include:

  • Feedback
  • Changing customer needs
  • Shortfalls noted after a diagnosis
  • Observation of best practices elsewhere in the industry

Continuous change and planned change differ primarily in the flexibility that continuous change provides. Continuous change operates as an organic model, adapting in real-time to developments and allowing for necessary adjustments throughout the entire process. Importantly, the company manager has the ability to modify the stages or objectives set for the change project as circumstances evolve.

How can I implement this change practically?

Continuous change management is a process adopted by various sectors, including the technology sector. They are forced to cope with rapidly changing customer needs as a result of technological advances, making product development processes inefficient.

In this case, employees can be encouraged by the company to report opportunities for improvement in their daily activities. The goal is to adopt more effective development methodologies and invest in employee training.

Proposed change

Proposed change is another approach to managing a business change project. In this model, management decides what new actions need to be taken. They do not necessarily consult collaborators.

What is the role of management?

Company management takes a proactive role in managing a proposed change. It identifies areas that need to be modified or adjusted. They then develop an implementation plan and establish the results they want to achieve at the end of the transition. Management also defines the resources to be mobilized for the implementation of change and the solutions to overcome resistance.

To facilitate a seamless transition process, company management should adopt a balanced approach and collaborate with human resources (HR) to avoid immediately imposing changes on employees. Management should define objectives, deadlines, and required resources, while decisions on the specific actions to achieve these objectives as quickly as possible can be made in collaboration with employees.

Why should I communicate proposed changes to employees?

Effective communication in change management can enhance employee motivation, facilitating an easier transition. For instance, articulating the reasons behind the organizational change and its benefits for the company helps employees understand the necessity. Using experts, such as Lemon Learning, can be a good choice to help implement a proposed change project that fosters motivation and engagement among stakeholders.

Directed change

In the directed change approach to change management, employees must be controlled or guided by company management. The latter imposes an authoritarian style and controls each phase of the process. It makes unilateral decisions regarding actions to take and the methods to follow to implement change within the company.

What is the place of employees in this approach to change?

Directed change is a strategy frequently embraced by many managers and is commonly linked with the principles of the Taylorian approach to management, named after Frederick W. Taylor. In accordance with this approach, employees are viewed as executors whose primary responsibility is to adhere to the instructions provided by management. Consequently, they perform tasks in a standardized manner, which proves highly effective if management makes sound decisions. In this context, management plays an important role in establishing effective work methods, closely overseeing employees, and evaluating performance against predefined standards.

How can I implement directed change management with ease?

In a pursuit to enhance profits, a company may opt for a directed change approach aligned with the Taylorian model to substantially reduce production costs. Under this strategy, management formulates a strategic plan that outlines:

  • Work methods
  • Working hours
  • Production quotas to be achieved

Employees are then informed about the new work procedures, and a quality control team is established to oversee the implementation of these changes.

Organized change

Similar to the continuous model, the organized change approach doesn’t establish a predefined goal from the outset. This management approach emphasizes engaging with stakeholders, allowing each of them to suggest courses of action, working methods, and objectives. These proposals stem from an analysis of existing practices.

Why do we involve employees?

In an organized change model, employees are actively involved. The objective of this involvement of all actors affected by the transition is to create an environment that encourages creativity and innovation. Although management plays an important role in decision-making, the opinions of employees are taken into account. This approach provides flexibility and adaptability to the changing needs of the organization. It is based on experimentation.

How to implement organized change?

To initiate organized change, management often begins by establishing a shared vision of the desired transformation. Whether it involves structural or organizational changes, this vision outlines the objectives to be accomplished and the potential benefits for the company. Subsequently, collaboration with stakeholders ensues. Management actively encourages diverse stakeholders to contribute by proposing ideas or solutions. This iterative approach allows for ongoing adjustments based on the feedback received throughout the process.

Effective change management is essential for the longevity of any organization. In our article, we explored 4 types of change management, each offering varied approaches that are ideal for steering a business toward methods or structures that align more effectively with its current and future challenges. Selecting the right type of process is imperative, tailored to the specific needs of your business. Whatever model you choose, adapt it to the situation and culture of the company, as well as its objectives.

Sarah C

Sarah oversees all things inbound marketing, exploring the many business uses and topics surrounding digital adoption. Her previous experiences include B2C and product marketing in the social listening space, uncovering emerging industry trends.