Today Majority of businesses are familiar with “change management.” However, how companies manage change and how successful they are at it will depend on the nature of their business, the change involved, and the people involved. This is mainly due to the ability of employees to understand and adapt to change. Lewin’s Change Management model can help you in developing simple yet powerful change management plan.
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Kurt Lewin, who developed one of the most important models to understand organizational change in the 1940s, still holds today. Kurt Lewin’s model is called Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze. It refers to the three-stage process that causes organizational change he describes. Lewin, a physicist, and social scientist, told organizational change by using the analogy that a block made of ice can change shape.
Understanding Lewin’s Change Management Model
What will you do if you find a large ice cube and realize you desire a cone of ice instead of a block? To make the ice changeable (unfreeze), you first need to melt it. Next, you need to mold the ice water into the desired shape (change). Then, it would be best if you froze the new form.
Lewin’s Change Model: Change, Unfreeze, Refreeze
You can look at change as a series of stages for which you can plan and prepare yourself. Many people enter change blindly, creating unnecessary chaos and turmoil.
Understanding why you want to change is vital to any successful change process. Lewin stated that “Motivation to change must be generated before any change can occur.” It is essential to help others and to question many of the assumptions that they hold about themselves. This is the stage where change can begin.
Stage 1: Unfreeze
The first stage of change is to prepare the organization for change. This involves taking down the status quo and building a new way of working.
You need to create a compelling message that explains why continuing the current way of doing business cannot work.
It is easier to frame this message if you can show tangible indicators such as falling sales, poor financial results, and worrying customer satisfaction surveys.
The first step in a change process is often stressful and challenging. You can put everyone and everything out of balance by reducing the “way things are done.”
People may react strongly to your words and actions. This is precisely what you need to do to create a strong desire to find a new equilibrium. This motivation is essential to elicit the buy-in from others and encourage participation.
These are the steps you can take to melt the ice during the Unfreeze stage.
- To determine what needs to be changed, analyze your organization or team to determine the current situation to understand why you need to make changes.
- Find and win support from key employees within an organization.
- The issue should be framed as a matter of organizational importance.
- Make a compelling argument for why you believe change is necessary.
- Assist evidence with your vision and strategy.
- Communicate your vision using the terms of the necessary change.
- The “Why” is the most important thing.
- Be open to employee concerns, and respond to them according to the need for change.
Stage 2: Change
The unfreezing stage has created uncertainty. This is the stage where people can resolve their tensions and find new ways to go about things. People begin to believe in the new direction and then act accordingly.
It takes time for people to accept the new direction and take part in the process of change. The Change Curve is a related model that helps to understand the issue of personal transformation in a changing environment.
To accept change and help make it a success, everyone must understand the benefits. It is not enough to convince everyone that the change is needed and beneficial for the company. This is a dangerous assumption, and you must avoid it.
Communication and time are essential to successful changes. It takes time for people to fully understand the changes and feel connected to the company during the transition period.
What steps can you take to make the Change stage easier?
It is vital to communicate clearly, often, and throughout the planning and implementation of the changes.
Be clear about the benefits and how they will impact everyone. Also, be sure to prepare everyone for the future.
Keep up to date with any news and dispel any rumors. This means answering all questions honestly and openly, dealing with issues immediately, and communicating the need to change back to operational requirements.
You can empower people by including them in the process when appropriate. Line managers can also provide daily direction. To reinforce the change, you can generate short-term wins where possible.
Stage 3: Refreeze
The organization is ready for refreezing when the changes take shape and the people are comfortable with the new working methods. A stable organizational chart and consistent job descriptions are the signs of a refreeze.
Refreeze is also necessary to enable people and organizations to institutionalize or internalize the changes. This involves making sure the changes are implemented in every aspect of daily business. Employees feel more secure and confident when they have a sense of stability.
What is the rationale behind creating stability in an ever-changing world? This refreezing stage is essential even though change is an inevitable part of many organizations. Employees must have this stage. Without it, they can get trapped in a transition stage, where they don’t know how to do things, so nothing gets done at their full potential.
It is difficult to effectively tackle the following change initiative with no new frozen state. If you don’t allow the latest changes to take root, how can you convince people that something is worth changing? Is it just for a change, and new motivations won’t be found?
Celebrate the success of the change as part of the refreezing process. This helps people find closure, thanks to them for enduring a difficult time, and encourages them to believe in future change.
These are steps that you can take to embed the changes in your team’s or organization’s culture.
- Develop a support mechanism throughout the change process
- Identify the barriers that prevent you from sustaining positive change.
- Assure leadership support
- Set up a reward system.
- Establish feedback systems.
- As needed, adapt the organizational structure.
- Keep everyone updated and well-supported.
- Celebrate your success at every step.
Lewin’s Change Management Model for Change Management is an easy-to-understand framework for managing change.
These three stages are vital to implementing the necessary change.
Start by motivating people to change (unfreeze). The change process is made more accessible by encouraging effective communication and empowering people (change) to adopt new ways of working. The process ends when the organization regains its sense of stability (refreeze). This is essential for creating the confidence to take on the following inevitable change.