Change Management Models – Which One to Choose?

It’s Friday afternoon at 4:12pm, and you are sitting at your desk putting together a contract for a new customer that is due Monday morning at 8am. You look up and realize that you need to leave by 4:30pm to pick up your two-year-old from daycare. So, you decide that you can finish up the contract over the weekend. At 4:14pm you hear that email ding. You just received an email stating that on Monday morning the IT department will be transitioning to a new software platform, and that the transition will begin Friday at 6pm through Sunday at 9pm. During that time, no one will be allowed on the company system. Then a loud, screaming noise can be heard throughout the office.


Maybe we all have not been in this exact situation, but we can all relate to something similar. Very little or next to no notice given ahead of time to prepare and adjust to the coming change. Leaving you feeling anxious, frustrated, and just angry. 

As companies leaders, mitigating change is crucial and necessary for successful implementation and meeting all objectives of the intended changes which include how your employees react to the change. Change affects everyone. And if there is one thing we are all confident in, change will remain constant. The management of change is what we, as leaders, can control.

There are several change management models out there that offer guidance and structure in helping roll out change. Here are some of the most recognized change management models out there.

  • Lewin’s Change Management model – A 3-step approach to change behavior: Unfreeze; Change; Refreeze.
  • ADKAR model – A people centered approach to facilitate change at the individual level.
  • Kotter’s 8-step change model – A process that uses employee’s experience to reduce resistance and accept change.
  • Kubler-Ross change curve – A strategy that breaks down how people process change using the 5 stages of grief.
  • McKinsey 7s model – A process centered around alignment of seven fundamental elements of any organization.
  • PDCA – A cyclical and iterative change management process focused on continuous improvement. 
  • Bridges Transition model – A people centered model focused on managing people’s experience transitioning to change.

There is not a right or wrong model. Models help prepare companies for upcoming changes. Having the right tools and guidance make planning for any size change possible. The reality is that none of these models may not work 100% for your company, and you may need to create a combination of several to find the best fit for your organization. 

The best way to know what kind of change model you need is to ask yourself the following questions: 

What are your goals for the changes you want to make?

You will never know what path to take if you do not know the destination. Identify the goals you want to reach. Do you want to increase sales? Expand company reach? You cannot implement a system of change without knowing the ultimate goal. Goals must be as specific as possible and measurable. Changes you implement should monitor the progress and measure success. All changes implemented should be designed at every step of the way to meet those goals.

How many new things are being introduced with the changes?

Employees are going to struggle when they must change anything about their routine. And the more change stacked on top of each other will make any changes difficult if not impossible to implement. When there will be multiple changes happening at one time and new processes to learn, companies will need more time and managing at each step of the process. Think about the changes from the perspective of your employees to have a realistic understanding of how the new processes will affect them. If you are asking your employees to take on a lot and to learn new skills, you’ll need to choose a change management model that will support and empower them through it.

How broad is the scope of the proposed changes?

The scope of the proposed changes will be the deciding factor in choosing what model you will use. The more extensive the changes, the more detailed the model will need to be. 

Where are your employees in the process?

As I said earlier, change is the one constant. We all can accept that change will continue to happen, but accepting the change is a different process for everyone. You will never be successful in change management if you do not have buy-in from your employees. An honest evaluation of where your employees are at will help you develop the right model for change. If your employees need more persuading, that should be factored into the process and the timeline. Trying to rush them through the change will only weaken the process. Ideally, you would prepare your employees for the coming change long before you need to implement it. One way to do so is to establish a culture of open communication that keeps employees in-the-know and fosters trust.

There are more ways to determine the right model for implementing the changes you want to make in your company. Research successful strategies to see what best suits your needs within the company. Rely on your experience, leadership, and gut intuition to know what will work best. It is important you think through the answers to all these questions so you can create a comprehensive strategy for your change management process. 

Team Talk book recommendation of the month: The 6 Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni

Marcie Richardson

With over 20 years of HR experience, Marcie understands the struggles companies face in compliance regulation and policy structure. She recognizes that effective company culture and policies start with how we treat employees. As the Director of Human Resources for Guarantee Restoration Services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she values the need for a strong company culture to ensure operational continuity. Marcie obtained her IICRC in WRT and ASD because she believes to truly understand the needs of each employee, you need to understand their job. Marcie also holds a Louisiana Department of Insurance License in Health, Life & Accident.

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