What Is Change Management and How to Use It Effectively

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Explore the reason change management is so important for today’s businesses and organizations and how to effectively plan for changes

[Featured Image] A change manager is preparing a report for employees to introduce changes at the workplace.

Changes are necessary for businesses to grow and stay competitive in today’s changing market. However, change isn’t always easy, and employees may need to adapt to a new environment or organizational structure quickly, so a change management team or change manager needs to focus on how to transition smoothly to meet the organization’s objectives.

In this article, learn about important change management principles so your business or organization can restructure.

What is change management?

Change management refers to any adjustments to company operations; it can be as simple as employee promotions or major as a merger.

Change management can occur circumstantially or planned and introduced slowly. The goal is to transition smoothly and efficiently. It’s best if changes can be planned to avoid disruptions and employee resistance.

A primary focus of a change management plan is to help employees understand and adapt to a new way of working.  

When is change management needed?

To remain competitive, a company will typically implement a plan for change. Organizations need to prepare for the future to keep pace with technological changes, the economy, and other factors that can contribute to success.

A change management plan helps address previous changes that failed to meet goals and objectives and can result in more successful outcomes. 

It’s important for changes to be identified and implemented early on so that employees can adapt quickly. . You may find some employees are resistant to change, so the sooner they’re made aware of what to expect, the smoother the transition. 

Principles of change management

Planning organizational changes can ease potential anxiety from employees and prevent costly disruptions. Some steps you can take to alleviate your employees' concerns are:

  • Communication: Communicate and motivate your employees, so they embrace change. Good communication allows for better adaptability. 

  • Affect: Be upfront with your employees, so they know how the changes will affect them and their responsibilities. 

  • Flexibility: Flexibility is important if the plan adjusts, so be prepared for the unexpected.

As you prepare for change, you’ll want to employ some core principles framed to your organization’s objectives. To be successful, engage key stakeholders so they’ll support the adjustments. This will help you set expectations and keep change management plans moving forward with transparency. Consider these additional principles you can employ to keep your change plan on track.

Identify the problem.

Before you can begin to think about change, you need to determine why you need to change and the proper process for it. Once the problem is identified, you can begin to work on how to fix it. The next step is to involve your management or work with a change manager or a change management team.

Create a plan.

When you’ve reached the planning stage, the change management team or manager will reach out to all employees to get feedback. This will allow for concerns to be addressed early in the process. 

Implement change.

It’s important to implement change slowly to give employees time to adapt. You’ll want everyone to be on board and know what their new responsibilities are. By having a comprehensive training program, there won’t be any surprises. Allow opportunities for employees to ask questions and offer input. 

Give ongoing support.

As changes are implemented, offer ongoing support to your employees so they know they are essential to the plan's success. Employees need to know they are vital to the organization’s success.

Evaluate the plan.

Assess the plan as you move forward so that any unanticipated changes can be made and that you’re getting the desired results. Be prepared to handle any problems, and keep communication open with all employees.

Who manages change in an organization?

When an organization is ready for change, typically, a change manager is appointed to form a team. Change managers may be part of an organization or work on a contractual basis. A change manager is a key person in the overall plan.

Change manager

Average annual base salary (US): $91,090 [1]

A change manager is responsible for leading the change management plan and ensuring communication is strategic, effective, and organized. The change manager's role is to make assessments and identify risks and mitigation procedures. This type of manager will typically collaborate with project managers and project teams to set up change processes, all while overseeing change requests and the adoption period.

CCMP certification

Certifications are a great way to enhance your resume and show that you’re committed to your career. The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) certificate is a great way to learn more about change management and the ways to implement it. According to the ACMP, to qualify, you’ll need to submit your education, experience, and training and answer three of five essay questions. Once your application has been excepted, you can schedule an exam.

Change management tools

Software programs are available to track everything you need for a smooth transition. The software program should have an indecent reporting feature, a critical event calendar, and be user-friendly. Some change management tools include Gantt charts, flowcharts, culture mapping, ADKAR analysis, Kotter's model, and Lewin's change model. Commercial change management software programs include Whatfix, Wrike, and IdeaScale.

Next steps

If you’re interested in change management as a career, consider earning certificates to boost your resume. These courses provide the necessary skills and knowledge you’ll need to have a successful career in change management. Learn more from these courses:  


professional certificate

Google Project Management:

Start your path to a career in project management. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than six months. No degree or experience is required.


(76,006 ratings)

1,032,914 already enrolled


Average time: 6 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Organizational Culture, Career Development, Strategic Thinking, Change Management, Project Management, Stakeholder Management, Business Writing, Project Charter, Project Planning, Risk Management, Task Estimation, Procurement, Quality Management, Project Execution, Coaching, Influencing, Agile Management, Problem Solving, Scrum, Effective Communication



Leading transformations: Manage change

We live in a globalised world of continuous change. Your ability to successfully manage change will allow you to have a positive impact on your work and ...


(1,265 ratings)

40,919 already enrolled


Average time: 1 month(s)

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a Change Manager , https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/change-management-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm."Accessed December 29, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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