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Implementation of Change

Managing change effectively

3.1 Managing the process of change is critical to the success of any change programme. Well planned change which is communicated effectively and carefully considers the impact on employees, will ensure that organisational effectiveness is maintained as far as possible.  Rushed, unplanned change can seriously damage the effectiveness of a department, its activities and reputation.

3.2 How change is managed can also have a critical impact on the wellbeing of employees. Health and wellbeing at work is strongly linked to having a degree of control over the job and how it is done. Giving employees a voice in how change is managed can help to maintain their sense of wellbeing. Badly managed change can cause long-lasting resentment and ill feeling that can lead to a breakdown of trust which damages employment relations and morale. To manage change affectively it is also important to:

  • ensure that the area in question is ready and prepared for the change
  • communicate and consult – develop an internal communications strategy; involve all key stakeholders
  • demonstrate strong leadership – create a clear vision, link individual and teams goals to organisational targets, set an example, being visible and approachable, creating an organisational culture based on openness and trust
  • engage – engaged employees are likely to adapt better to change and have easier emotional journeys
  • use a solution-focused approach and encourage team building
  • build an agile culture which is adaptable to change.

Readiness assessment

3.3 For change to take place effectively, the department or area in question must be suitably prepared. This will include having:

  • a clear vision and objectives for the intended change
  • the right conditions and resources in place to support the change process
  • the motivation and attitude to engage with the change and make it work
  • the necessary approvals to implement the change
  • support from the relevant stakeholders.

3.4 There are a number of tools available to assess whether an area is ready for change. Below is a brief overview of such tools, with relevant links for further details:

Forcefield Analysis

3.5 Forcefield Analysis is used to identify the forces for change and forces against the change.  The purpose of the tool is to enable the lead manager to strengthen the forces for the change and weaken the forces opposing it, thus giving the successful implementation of the change a better chance of happening.


3.6 SWOT is Similar to Forcefield Analysis in terms of identifying Strengths and Weaknesses but also considers what the Opportunities and Threats might be.  Again it is useful for managers to undertake this exercise to enable them to communicate why the change is necessary, what the benefits of the change will be and the opportunities it could create for the individual and the organisation. It is also useful to identify the weaknesses and the threats, as these can then be addressed and mitigated to ensure that the change is implemented smoothly.

Stakeholder analysis

3.7 Used to identify key stakeholders and the impact the change is likely to have on them. This is useful to enable managers to understand who they need to be considering in the change and consider ways in which they can effectively manage the impact on each of these groups of people as a pre-emptive action.

3.8 The ACAS Managing Change booklet includes some useful tools for managers e.g. SWOT analysis and Forcefield Analysis.

Effective communication

3.9 A critical component in managing successful change is communication. Communicating effectively involves:

  • communicating regularly and often with everyone involved (stakeholders)
  • providing information about the change and where people can get the support they need
  • allowing regular opportunities for all involved to share their views individually and as a group
  • actively listening
  • building rapport
  • asking appropriate questions
  • understanding and handling common types of behaviour

3.10 At an early stage in the process, the lead manager should consider developing an internal communications strategy and involve all key stakeholders. Draft communications and presentations can be provided by the relevant HR School Team on request. The ACAS `Managing Change’ booklet also includes a sample communication strategy.

Supporting staff through change

3.11 Effective change management involves taking steps to help minimise adverse impacts of the change and to ensure employees are provided with the tools and support to cope effectively and maintain their wellbeing. Effective and ongoing communication is critical to maintaining morale and reducing uncertainty. It is important to recognise that employees cope differently with change and may be concerned about job security and the impact on themselves and their families, particularly if redundancies are considered. It is therefore important to ensure that communication is maintained and any questions or concerns are considered and responded to empathetically.

3.12 Research has shown that employees may take their lead, for how they respond to change, from their line managers. Line managers can trigger positive behaviour by showing that they care about how change impacts on staff.  Line managers can learn to recognise certain behaviours brought about by change and learn to manage them and support employees effectively.

3.13 To support employees effectively, line managers can learn to:

  • recognise the impact of workplace change on employees and common behavioural and emotional responses that can arise during the change process
  • adapt management styles to accommodate behavioural and emotional responses to change
  • develop appropriate skills to manage staff effectively during change
  • use effective and ongoing communication that is appropriate to the stage(s) an employee or group of employees seem to have reached on the change curve.
  • carefully explain redeployment, career transition and other sources of support that are available to staff, including:
  • focus on a robust communication and consultation plan, which includes all affected employees and gives adequate time and opportunity for issues to be raised
  • retain flexibility in the consultation plan to allow for extra meetings with individual or groups if needed
  • ensure that affected employees know which management representatives are available to discuss the change
  • ensure that the above interventions are built into the consultation plan, as appropriate.

Responses to change

3.14 Change curves, such as the example below, are often used to suggest a generalised map of an employee’s emotional journey through change and to predict how performance, results and morale are likely to be affected by an announcement and subsequent implementation of a change in the workplace. The speed of an employee’s transition will depend on the individual's self-perception, amount of control they have in the process, other past experiences, and how all of these combine to create their anticipation of future events. Employees are unlikely to be aware of moving systematically from one emotion to the next but the range of emotions is very common. Managers may get to the ‘moving forward’ stage before employees so regular communication and feedback is vital.



3.15 Please note that change curves should be treated with caution as they are just one method of interpreting an individual's reactions to change within a range of possible responses and outcomes. Change can mean different things to different people and emotional responses must be seen in relative not absolute terms. For one person, a change may result in denial, disillusionment or depression but to another a welcome challenge which they come to terms with quickly. These models can however be helpful in reminding us that people’s reactions may be different to our own and how best to support different reactions to change. The curve above shows one reaction to change and indicates that with a fair process and support people can understand, accept and move on from change.
3.16 A summary of actions managers can take to support those going through this emotional journey is provided below:


  • Communicate regularly and often
  • Provide information and opportunities for support


  • Celebrate success
  • Review and monitor

Emotional - Frustration/Depression/Anger

  • Continue with an open dialogue and communicate sensitively
  • Anticipate and consider potential concerns and objections
  • Develop strategies to pre-empt or address early


  • Offer opportunities to test and explore what the change means for individuals and teams
  • Provide opportunities for training and development
  • Build in contingency time

Adapting your management style

3.17 Research has shown that transformational leadership is one of the most appropriate styles to use when managing change as it is people-focused whilst still setting clear goals and objectives.

3.18 Transformational leadership:

  • is focused on integrity and fairness
  • sets clear goals
  • has high expectations
  • encourages others
  • provides support and recognition
  • stirs the emotions of people
  • gets people to look beyond their self-interest
  • inspires people to aim higher and reach their full potential
  • is flexible and dynamic.

3.19 Transformational leadership supports change because it:

  • sets a clear organisational vision for the future
  • discusses the organisational vision with everyone involved
  • ensures that the organisational vision does not contradict with personal values of employees
  • encourages the contribution of ideas and suggestions from employees belonging to various levels within an organisation
  • inspires and motivates colleagues to `buy-in’ to the change
  • leads by setting a positive example
  • creates opportunities for employees to connect with each other
  • recognises, acknowledges and supports colleagues’ personal transitions as they go through the change process
  • adopting this style facilitates successful employee engagement – a key factor in implementing a change initiative.

Training to support for those responsible for managing a programme of change

3.20 Managing and supporting groups of employees experiencing a programme of change can be very demanding on line managers.   Therefore, The Institution should also consider what additional support managers involved with the change may need. The HR Division’s Personal and Professional Development Section has developed specific training that is tailored to equip individuals with responsibility for managing and implementing a localised programme of change with the knowledge and skills required  to  successfully guide, support and motivate teams - and the individuals within those teams – through the change process.  Please contact PPD for further information.

Why employees might resist change

3.21 Some resistance to change is natural and inevitable. Employees may resist change for a wide range of reasons. They may believe that change will impact on them negatively i.e. potential for redundancy, their working hours or practices being affected, new systems/processes introduced that they are not knowledgeable about. They may be reluctant to lose control, give up old habits, find the adjustment period unmanageable, have a preference for low levels of stimulation and novelty or lack the emotional resilience to deal with change effectively.

Overcoming resistance

3.22 To overcome resistance it is important to foster a sense of ownership of the change within the team or institution to enable the team to feel that they retain some control over the situation. It is also important to respond to how employees are feeling in the right way.

3.23 Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations, including change. More resilient people are able to adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties, while less resilient people have greater difficulty with coping in stressful situations. Emotional resilience to change can be built by:

  • giving regular and timely feedback
  • offering opportunities for training and development
  • building trusting relationships
  • encouraging an organisational culture that is positive and supportive

3.24 It is important to allow individuals the time necessary to adapt to the change (or communicate the reasons why this isn’t possible to enable understanding and limit resistance). Habitual behaviour can also be addressed by offering opportunities for support, training and setting a positive example. The ACAS `Managing Change’ booklet also includes a helpful table of common reactions to change and how to respond to them as a line manager.

Team building

3.25 Alongside reviewing and evaluating a change process, post-change team building can also be an effective way of embedding and consolidating change.  A number of different models can be used to assist a team in adapting to changing goals by identifying collective strengths and weaknesses and highlighting key development stages. This will enable the manager to focus on using the team’s strengths and offer opportunities for development to address areas of weaknesses, as well as managing the transition process effectively so that the team is able to withstand the impact of the change and enable it to be more cohesive yet adaptable in a changing environment. Further advice on team building activities can be obtained from the relevant HR School Team.

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Roles and Responsibilities