Every Manager Must Know This
The most challenging task for a leader or manager is to bring change in the organization. This is because it is also about bringing change in people's behavior, and attitude towards the ongoing processes.
A good manager can motivate their team-mates to work towards a common goal of the organization which increases its profit. Research done over the several years of various organizations had revealed that 90 percent of organizations, who had good managers, also had increased their profit percentage in comparison to last year's performance (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). The organization goes through the various change process during its journey. Change management is considered the most challenging task for a leader. There are various models of change that leaders can adapt to bring change in their organization. Some of them are Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model and Lewin’s Change Management Model.
In this article, I have described Lewin’s change management model that you can use to lead the proposed process change against the poorly implemented process in your workplace. In 1940, Kurt Lewin developed a model for effectively implementing change in the organization which is still effective (The mindtools.com authors, n.d.). Lewin has developed a three-step change model i.e. Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze (Levasseur, 2001).
There is one situation that I would like to describe before I move further. I am describing a poorly implemented process in my former workplace. Describing my former workplace, it is an automobile production plant that produces motorcycle under license of an international company. Our parent company had recently implemented Kaizen policy in our company. Kaizen is a Japanese term that means ‘change for good’ strategy where employees at all levels are motivated to participate proactively to bring changes in their respected stations. I was appointed as an executive of the Kaizen department, to plan and execute activities to increase the productivity of man, machine, material, and method, applying Kaizen philosophy. As per Kaizen philosophy, I wanted to involve employees at all the level to do Kaizen activities. None of us were habituated to this process. Moreover, many employees were unaware of the significance of kaizen philosophy. Every employee was to do one Kaizen activity every month as per upper management. But this was not happening in our company. Kaizen activities are necessary for the automobile industry to reduce losses due to breakdown, unexpected stoppages, and inefficient processes (Hua, 2018). Our company needed to adapt the Kaizen philosophy to reduce losses. Due to the poorly implemented process of Kaizen philosophy, it was hampering the overall productivity of my company. Equipment breakdown frequency was increasing, workers' efficiency was decreasing and the percentage of right at the first time from the assembly line was also decreasing.
When Kaizen's philosophy was first introduced then everyone was confused and was denying the change process. Some show anger whereas so few had fear of additional burden to their task. This can be well explained via the following change curve.
The change curve as shown in the figure has 4 stages. As shown in the figure, at the initial stage when change is introduced people deny it or are shocked. In the second stage, when change starts to bring disruption in the process then they react with anger or are fearful to accept it. In the third stage, when change starts to explore new opportunities, people start to accept the changes and adapt themselves to the change. In the final stage, when change starts rebuilding their ways of working, they embrace the change. When the employee embraces the change, an organization can benefit from the rewards of change.
Understanding Lewin’s Model of Change
It is easier to understand the Lewin’s Model of change from an experiment of reshaping the ice cube. Suppose if I need to reshape triangular shape ice into cylindrical ice, then I will first melt triangular shape ice which is the Unfreezing process. In the second step, I will put melted ice into cylindrical shapes can which is the Change process. After melted ice takes shape of a cylindrical can, I will refreeze that melted ice to take shape of cylindrical ice which is the Refreezing process.
During my tenure, I was able to bring change in the mindset of the employees regarding the adaptation of Kaizen philosophy in their workstation but with lots of disruption. I did not find change to be as effective as it should have been. Using the Lewin’s model of change, I could have developed a better change model at my organization. This would have made me a better leader for bringing positive change in my organization.
First Stage of Lewin’s Model: Unfreeze
According to Lewin’s change model, the first step of change involves motivating the stakeholders on why change is important and what kind of positive impact it will bring to the organization. This step is about preparing the organization for acceptance of the change. Generally, people are habituated towards what they have been doing so bringing change is about challenging the beliefs and behavior of the people. The first step is about forming the foundation of the building, so a manager/leader must spend his time and effort to build a strong foundation.
Second Stage of Lewin’s Model: Change
This stage can also be called as risk-taking and experimentation stage, where leaders implement various strategies to implement the change process. This transition takes time as it is difficult and challenging for everyone to embrace the change. So, a leader/manager must be patient with change and keep on trying with various methodologies to make others adopt those changes. It is also important for people to understand their benefits to their careers to accept organizational change. Thus, managers and leaders must communicate benefits to employees regarding their benefit.
Third Stage of Lewin’s Model: Refreeze
This stage can also be called as building commitment within the organization to sustain the change model. Once the change is embraced by stakeholders, the organization should be ready to refreeze the change. Stable organization chart, a constituency in the job, beneficial output because of the change model, and employees taking the change as standard procedure are key indicators for the organization to refreeze the change.
The most challenging task for a leader or manager is to bring change in the organization. This is because it is also about bringing change in people's behavior, and attitude towards the ongoing processes. Lewin’s management model of change which follows three simple steps of unfreezing-changing-refreezing is found to be a very effective tool for bringing change in the organization. Every manager and CEOs’ if embrace such a theory of change can effectively bring change in their organization.
Brunet, P. (2000). Kaizen: from understanding to action. IEE Seminar Kaizen: From Understanding to Action. London: IET Digital Library.
Hua, C. C. (2018). The Kaizen Wheel – an integrated philosophical foundation for total continuous improvement. TQM Journal, 409-424.
Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2012). The Leadership Challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Levasseur, R. E. (2001). People Skills: Change Management Tools- Lewin's Change Model. Interfaces, 71-73.
The mindtools.com authors. (n.d.). Lewin's Change Management Model. Retrieved 10 02, 2019, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_94.htm