Getty Images/iStockphoto


6 of the most common HR change management models

Following a change management model can help HR leaders ensure smoother transition at their organization. Learn some of the most common models and how HR applies them.

The right change management model can help guide a company through a period of transition. HR leaders should learn some of the most common approaches so they can apply the one that works best to their organization's change management process.

Change management can be challenging because of the need to manage change rollout and communicate with employees who may be resistant to the news. Following a particular model may improve the change implementation and make the process go more smoothly.

Learn more about some of the most common HR change management models.

What are change management models?

Change management models are structured frameworks that help HR leaders manage change by providing a step-by-step roadmap. Change management models can help in situations such as a new software implementation.

The most popular change management models focus on encouraging employee feedback, identifying affected teams and mitigating risk. Many models stress the need for HR staff to provide training to equip employees with needed skills and knowledge, while others focus on continuous process improvement that fosters adaptability as well as providing a foundation for future change.

6 commonly used change management models

Many companies use one of several change management models to manage a transitional period. Here are some of the most frequently used models.

1. The McKinsey 7-S model

The McKinsey 7-S model consists of seven elements that affect a company's ability to enact change successfully.

The model references both "hard" factors, such as a strategic plan or an analysis of the organizational structure, as well as "soft" factors, such as shared core values and leadership management style. Those using the model examine the seven elements to create a change management plan.

2. The PDCA (plan-do-check-act) model

The PDCA model is a four-step continuous process improvement model. The first step is to identify areas for process improvement and develop a plan for implementing change. The next step is to run a limited test to determine if the change is worth doing. The third step is to analyze the test results and identify obstacles before embarking on the final step, which is taking action.

Since the PDCA is a continuous process, returning to step one and creating a different plan may be necessary if the change was unsuccessful. However, if the change worked, those following the model can incorporate what they've learned during the process when planning new improvements.

3. The Kaizen model

Like the PDCA, the Kaizen model is also a continuous process model.

It's based on 10 principles, which include letting go of assumptions, being proactive about problem-solving and rejecting the status quo in favor of iterative, adaptive changes. Those following the model focus on a particular problem, identify a way to move forward and enact that change, then start from the beginning.

4. The Lewin model

The Lewin model is based on providing ongoing communications to employees to avoid potential confusion about a change.

The model consists of a three-step process that begins with identifying the element that must change and communicating that need companywide. Next, HR and other company leaders implement the change, communicating frequently about the change's effects and providing training to enable employees to learn new skills.

Once the change is in effect, the final step is to continue communicating with employees and tout the benefits and successes of the change. For example, leaders may share how the company's new ERP software is saving employees time.

5. The Satir Change Model

The Satir Change Model examines the five phases of employees experiencing a change, including how each stage can affect employee productivity.

The first step is titled the "late status quo" and refers to the time when employees learn about the change. The second step is resistance to the change, followed by a stage titled "chaos," in which productivity drops as employees react to the change. In the fourth stage, productivity improves as employees experience the benefits of the change, which leads to the final stage, known as "new status quo," in which employee acceptance results in renewed productivity.

6. ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) model

The ADKAR model is a five-step framework. It's similar to the Satir and Lewin models in recognizing that employee buy-in is crucial for successful change. The goal is for employees to move through all five steps.

The first step is for employees to become aware of the changes and why they are needed, followed by the employee having a desire to be a part of the change and celebrate it. The employee then receives the knowledge and training, or "ability," needed for the change. The last step is reinforcing employee engagement by recognizing them for their performance.

Lynda Spiegel is a freelance writer and former global HR executive for financial services, telecommunications and SaaS companies.

Dig Deeper on Talent management

Business Analytics
Content Management
and ESG