When you’re dealing with a business, change is an inevitability. It’s not something that anyone looks forward to, but it’s a fact of life that you need to adapt and prepare for in almost all facets of your enterprise. By its nature change disrupts your plans and can make preparing for the future difficult, but with an understanding of the different types of organizational change you can better prepare yourself to cope with the ever-shifting market.

1. Organization Wide Change

Organization wide change and organizational change can often seem interchangeable, but there are subtle differences between the two. Organization wide change refers to anything that affects all levels of your business, for instance adopting new software or having to adjust to changing laws regarding the way you run your operations. It’s about large scale transformations that will be felt by every single member of your staff, taking careful planning and implementation. A great example of this is the digital transformation that many organizations are currently undergoing, replacing old and outdated technology with the new.

Organization wide change isn’t something you can just rush into, it takes a long time to plan and execute the change without causing massive disruptions to your operations. When planning for this type of change you need to have a clear goal in mind, but also to be flexible on how to achieve said goal. In short it’s the destination that matters, not the journey, and in almost every case you’ll meet resistance or difficulties with implementing this type of change. Your plans should allow for adaptability based on circumstances, for instance personnel in different locations will have different obstacles to overcome when implementing change, and your planning should reflect that.

2. Transformational Change

Transformational change is another broad term, meaning any change happening in your organization’s organizational strategy. Whether this is to do with how you run your day to day affairs, what software is used for a particular task, etc. This type of change can often overlap with organization-wide changes, but includes those types of change that are focused only on a specific department or process. This is another case where careful planning and slow implementation can be best, however owing to the nature of changing markets and circumstances that may not always be possible – the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is the epitome of this, with businesses being forced to change the way they operate or close their doors.

Transformational change comes from outside factors to the process or policy being altered, with plenty of times being a response to changing customer expectations and/or new technological innovations. Those organizations who can adapt quickly will benefit the most when exploring a new factor or market opportunity, with others who cannot being left in the dust. However there is always risk involved when making these types of changes in anticipation of future change, which is where discovery-driven planning may come in handy.

3. Personnel Change

Personnel change is exactly what it says on the tin, any change that occurs in the personnel within your business. This can take the form of promotions, demotions, new hires, layoffs and more. While this type of change operates on a smaller scale than those previously mentioned, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Employee morale is best when people feel secure in their positions, and layoffs or new hires can shake confidence and cause performance to drop. Furthermore, any change in members of the team or in management can cause ripples that lower productivity as the personnel still remaining adapt to the new circumstances. In the case of promotions, having an established career ladder with mentorship programmes can allow new team members to slot in without causing too much disruption.

4. Unplanned Change

A rather broad category that overlaps with every other type of organizational change mentioned thus far, unplanned change is exactly what it sounds like – changes that were unplanned because the circumstances that made them necessary could not be foreseen. It’s important to remember when planning anything for your business that you simply cannot account for everything that might occur in the future, meaning you need to be prepared to implement unplanned changes if necessary.

The most glaring example of unplanned changes in recent times is the response many businesses were forced to make thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions that were put in place world wide. Long-established collaborations between organizations and even nations had to be halted to take into account their effect on the pandemic, with changes being made to every facet of business life. Home working, socially distanced offices and more had to be implemented, and implemented quickly. While such a monumental change isn’t often experienced, it clearly outlined the need for adaptability in the coming future.

5. Remedial Change

Remedial change is change that’s implemented in order to address a problem or deficiency in an organization’s workings. It often comes right from the top, with only the upper management having the information necessary to see where the issues lie. However, you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that remedial change is always due to poor performance or lack of effort on anyone’s part – sometimes changing circumstances can cause long-established protocols to become outdated and inefficient compared to new means. With the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see when such changes would have been most optimal, but in the moment it isn’t always easy to see what is needed in the future.

Remedial change is unique among the categories of organizational change in that it always happens after the fact, and as such can be tailored to the problem in question. It often requires the least planning of all types of change thanks to the wealth of information already available, but will have some of the most precise and detailed plans. When dealing with remedial change, you always need to put things into context to see the best alterations going forward.

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