Types of change

There are many issues to consider in managing business change - whether the changes you're planning are minor or major. The first step in managing your people through change is identifying the type of changes you are making to your business. This step will help you decide how to plan your change process and support your people effectively. There are 3 major types of change.

Developmental change

Developmental changes are those you make to improve current business procedures. As long as you keep your staff well informed of changes, and give them the training they need to implement process improvements, they should experience little stress from development change.

Examples of developmental change include:

  • improving existing billing and reporting methods
  • updating payroll procedures
  • refocusing marketing strategies and advertising processes.

Developmental change may be your first step to making further changes to your business that will help you meet the demands of your market. Managing these small steps well demonstrates to your team that you are taking a sensible, measured approach to change. When making developmental changes, it's important for you to:

  • explain to staff your rationale for the changes
  • skill your staff to use new processes and technology
  • show your staff your commitment to minimising the impacts of change on your business.

Transitional change

Transitional changes are those you make to replace existing processes with new processes. Transitional change is more challenging to implement and can increase your employees' discomfort.

Examples of transitional change include:

  • experiencing corporate restructures, mergers or acquisitions
  • creating new products or services
  • implementing new technology.

The 'transitional' phase of dismantling old systems and processes and implementing new ones can be unsettling for staff. When making transitional changes, you need to:

  • clearly communicate the impacts and benefits you foresee as a result of your changes
  • reinforce to staff that their jobs are secure
  • capture the views and contributions of your staff in making your changes
  • regularly update your staff on the steps you are taking to support them through the change and train them in new systems.

Transformational change

Transformational changes are those you make to completely reshape your business strategy and processes, often resulting in a shift in work culture. These changes may be a response to extreme or unexpected market changes. Transformational change can produce fear, doubt and insecurity in staff, and needs to be very well managed.

Examples of transformational change include:

  • implementing major strategic and cultural changes
  • adopting radically different technologies
  • making significant operating changes to meet new supply and demand
  • reforming product and service offerings to meet unexpected competition and dramatic reductions in revenue.

Transformational changes will usually involve both transitional and developmental change - where businesses recognise that they need to overhaul the way they do business. When making transformational changes, it's crucial that you:

  • develop and communicate a well-defined strategy that explains the approaches you are taking to change and the goals you are setting
  • continually reinforce your rationale for the changes
  • plan and methodically implement new business systems and approaches
  • involve your staff in all phases of change discussions and planning and communicate regularly throughout the process.

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Last reviewed
June 29, 2016

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