What is Change Management?

what is change management?

Change is constant. So what is change management? In truth, we cannot manage change, we can only respond to it.

To define Change, you could say that it is the process of moving from the current state to a vision of the future. This transition creates a fear of the unknown, which often causes distress for people.

To define Change Management, you could say that it is about managing this transition from the old position to the new. You are unfreezing the old state and refreezing the new state so that it becomes established.

In order to manage change, facing the truth of the current situation is really critical. For example, suppose you want to give up cigarettes. Do you tell people you smoke about ten a day, when in reality you smoke twenty? You need to be honest about what it is you need to change and why.

When you get to a new position, you need to reinforce and copper fasten it so that you don't go back. Take a holiday, or buy a new set of golf clubs with the money you have saved through quitting smoking!

The same applies to managing change in the workplace. Typical scenarios would be moving to a new location, or changing to a new performance management system. The more thought and planning you put in to the change project and the stages of change, the more likely it is that the change will happen smoothly.

the change process

Recognise the Context of Change

When considering what is change management in the workplace, here are some of the factors that influence the need for change:

1. Demographics - e.g. an ageing workforce puts a focus on pensions
2. Competition - e.g cheap labour elsewhere forces a rethink on payscales
3. Technology - e.g. calls for fast turnarounds in some product lines
4. Legal/Political - e.g. change may be a legal requirement
5. Economics - e.g. increases in indirect taxation change consumer spending levels

Factors can be transient, many and varied and may not always be clearly identifiable. Think about the factors influencing your change project and their significance.

If you want to manage change, you need to ask the following questions:

WHAT is to change? WHERE will this happen? WHEN will this happen? WHO will be affected? HOW will this be done?

Successful change is about communication through questions, at every stage.

examine the context of a change project

Be Prepared for Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a predictable part of the change management process. These are common fears that cause people to resist change:

  • Fear of the unknown   
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of loss of status
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Fear of losing job
  • Fear of increased workload

Fears are false evidence that appear real, and may stop us from seeing the truth of the situation. Help people overcome their fears through listening and communicating at every stage if you want your change initiative to be a success.


When you are considering what is change management , you might find these quotes thought provoking:

"It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” - Charles Darwin

“If the rate of change outside the organisation is greaterthan the rate of change inside the organisation, then the end is in sight.” - Jack Welch, GE

"I think there’s a world market for maybe 5 computers." - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM 1943

“Computers in the future will weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” - Popular Mechanics, forecasting advance of science 1949

“There is no reason why anyone would want to have a computer in their home” - Ken Olson, President, Chairman & Founder of Digital Equipment. Corp. 1977


managing change in the workplace

Find out about our How To Manage Change Pack

Contains a practical workbook and web video to help you :

  • Create a plan to manage your change
  • Avoid resistance to change in others
  • Turn necessary change from a threat into a success

Find Out More

You Might Also Like  . . .


Return to Top of What is Change Management Page

Return to Managing Change in the Workplace Overview Page

Return to Home Page


Subscribe to our mailing list to get monthly concise tips and hear about upcoming webinars

* indicates required

Read our latest newsletter -  Avoid the Pain of Employee Turnover - 3 Steps to Maintaining Business Performance or view our back issues for more concise tips on practical management skills.