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While not always everyone’s favorite process, change is often considered the critical driver of progress and transformation. Inevitable as it may be, change forces organizations and individuals alike to cooperate, adapt, and learn from it. The past three years of the pandemic have emphasized the necessity of change, especially for the public sector, in responding to the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times we dwell in. But while concentrating on the change process is crucial, it is equally vital for leaders to make employees their primary focus and create a space where they can fearlessly voice their ideas and play an active role in the change efforts.

Here are four things you should consider when leading employee-centric change:

1. What’s breaking the mold?

The first important step to leading employee-centric change is to identify exactly what is changing. Looking into the design elements that typically change in an organization, such as strategy, structure, processes, and rewards, would allow your organization to discern which among these will demand further attention. Moreover, as these elements begin to interplay, this will also notify you of the indirect impacts of the change on other concerning aspects. 

Ms. Elizha Corpus, Managing Director and Lead Consultant of Elizha Corpus Consulting, revealed that change, in its own way, will always have an impact on all the elements, but knowing your biggest pain point can ease the change process. 

“Realistically, if you implement a change in a company, it all has effects in all of these. But being able to diagnose what is the element that is changing the most, it can help you to prioritize your efforts,” she says.

Checking on your elements is a step that will serve as your starting point in assessing the change in your organization and enable you to prioritize your efforts while also being conscious of the potential indirect effects the change could have on other elements.

2. Where can you spot the difference?

Once the change has been identified, the change management expert advises learning whether the change is occurring at an organizational, team, or individual level. Mapping out which of the organizational levels change will be more saturated will help you employ the best strategy to address the situation.

For instance, should the change be organizational-level or team-level, Lewin’s Change Model could be utilized in your organization, which involves three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. Unfreezing would serve as a time for preparation and allow you to unlearn some of the structures or work routines that will change. Only in the second step, Changing, will the design and implementation of the change begin. The last step, Refreezing, would secure the integration and sustainability of the change in your organization. 

“We have to know where change is taking place because it helps us to understand the reactions to change”, says Ms. Corpus. 

If the change is occurring on an individual level, it could be best analyzed with the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, better known as the “Stages of Grief.” Employing this model will reinforce better understanding for the members of your organization and a sense of unity in working towards the change.

“I think this is important to realize because when you’re working at an individual level, you know that people are going through these different parts of the curve, so you can kind of prepare for that as you make your change happen,” Ms. Corpus says.

We have to know where change is taking place because it helps us to understand the reactions to change.
— Ms. Elizha Corpus

3. How big is the bang? 

Assessing the magnitude of the change is imperative to leading change in an organization. Not only will this help you become more aware of how significant the impacts will be, but it will also allow you to prepare and strategize accordingly. 

Ms. Corpus asserts that the model best utilized for learning the magnitude of change is the Scales of Change, or Dunphy and Stace’s Contingency Model, which poses four distinct magnitudes: fine-tuning, incremental, modular, and organization-wide. As the name suggests, fine-tuning refers to small changes or tweaks. Incremental, on the other hand, is the kind of change that is noticeable but not exactly radical. In contrast, modular is a large change that occurs only in specific groups or departments. Lastly, organization-wide involves a massive change that involves the entirety of your organization. 

“It’s important to know the magnitude because it allows us to analyze how much disruption will actually happen,” says Ms. Corpus.

Knowing the magnitude of the change will not only help you prepare and strategize for its implementation, but it can also be helpful in reassuring and putting to rest whatever worries your members may have regarding the change.

It’s important to know the magnitude because it allows us to analyze how much disruption will actually happen.
— Ms. Elizha Corpus

4. How long is the ship sailing?

While this may be the time for a change, remember that change also takes time. Knowing when the change will happen helps you discern whether it is a short-term or long-term change. 

“It’s important to define that because it helps you to position the change properly. You can position it as an urgent matter if it’s short-term, and if it’s more long-term, then you can try to think, ‘Okay, if it’s not urgent, what is the impact? How big of an impact will it make on the company?'”, says Ms. Corpus. 

Knowing the timeframe of the change would help you navigate the complex implementation process in the future. Setting timelines and milestones would serve as your roadmap for ensuring that each measure relevant to the change is properly implemented.

“When it comes to time frame, it allows you to consider different phased approaches to set milestones. [The] timeframe will help you to create priorities and milestones to hit so that you’re not overwhelmed by so many different initiatives all at once,” Ms. Corpus says.


Ready to lead change in your organization?
We at ISA offer the Skills Lab, a capacity development program designed to empower organizations by enhancing diverse skills unique to any organization’s needs to achieve long-term sustainability and success. A Skills Lab on Change Management awaits you next year! For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Kristine Roraldo at kroraldo@isacenter.org.