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Change Management Strategies: How to be Flexible

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 7/6/2011

Are your team members accepting when changes occur? If not, using flexible change management strategies may be all you need. Here's at how to take the fear out of change to make teams and projects flow smoothly.

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    Fear of Individual Change

    Medo Fear by Xaimex Individual fear of change is your biggest stumbling block as a project manager or team leader. Many people at the workplace who become accustomed to what they do and how they do it really don't want to change. They are more apt to have the thought, "If it isn't broken, why fix it?" While that is untrue, changing what or how a team member works or produces can be construed by the individual as a negative change and not a positive part of change.

    Using change management as it relates to your team means being flexible. Kurt Lewin, a German psychologist thought of individual change this way:

    Unfreeze - Unfreezing is the initial part of individual change and where the most conflict or deterrence lies.

    Change - Changing is where the team members learn new methods and process to effect the change.

    Refreeze - Refreezing is the adjustment period and becoming comfortable and happy with change.

    Kurt Lewin's idea of individual change is still used in change management today. If done properly, it can eliminate the resistance and fear and allow individual change to be positive in nature.

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    Flexible Change Management

    Project managers need to realize the importance of being flexible when change occurs. How flexible is determined by the amount of change or the type of change. Use these tips to gain positive results using flexible change management:

    1. Amount of change - If the type of change is vast, include everyone on your team from the very beginning. Be receptive to all ideas but stay in charge of how your change process will flow.
    2. Resistance to change - The doubters may amaze you if allowed to speak their peace on change. When describing why they don't like the change, it may give them a clear picture on why the change is needed, if done in an open forum.
    3. Goal-driven change - It's not uncommon for change to be goal driven. Goals may include a new position or new skills learned. Using a goal to drive change is very effective when it comes to individual change.
    4. Type of change - If team members understand the type of change from the very beginning and how it will make their job easier, you'll gain acceptance and eliminate the fear of change.
    5. Feedback - Allowing team member feedback at initial levels of change is important to the teams who are being asked to change.

    Your flexibility on how individual change is accomplished will reflect positively within the team if you take on the role of a good facilitator in the process. Understand that in change management, individual change is the most challenging part of change. Embrace differences, conflicts and resistance and turn them into an open forum where your team members all feel they have a vote in how the change process will work.