Change Management:
Everything you need to know

Ahh, change. You either love it or hate it. Whatever your personal sentiment,
navigating change is a vital part of any leading organization today.

At SPRING TODAY, we have decades of experience with change management. That’s why we’ve decided to write down everything we know about the topic, including why it’s important and a couple of best practices for successful implementation.
But first, let’s talk definition.

Change management is a systematic and deliberate process to implement change in organizations.

Because simply wishing for change isn’t enough; there are stages to go through and people to involve in order to make a transformation successful. This process is called change management.

If you want to learn more about Change Management, this is a good place to start. We will dive into the following topics:

  • What is change management?
  • Benefits of change management
  • The business case
  • Change management models
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • The role of a change manager

If you’re new to change management, this article will open your eyes to the potential danger zones, as well as the hidden pot(s) of gold at the end of a successful transformation. Ready to set sail?

What is change management?

The world is changing faster than ever. So much so that people came up with an acronym for it. We’re living in a “VUCA world”, they say. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.

As a result, leading organizations need to be ready to constantly adapt, in order to stay relevant. This can be about all kinds of business transformations, achieving sustainability goals, digital transformations, but also more new way of workings, culture & leadership development programs. 

So many companies worldwide are striving to increase their internal change capability. That means they are making sure that their organization attracts and develop the right skills to navigate through constant change.

The problem is: change is not at all easy to accomplish.

It involves people (who are usually resistant to change), changing behavior (which you know is a near-impossible task if you’ve ever attempted a new diet or exercise routine), and navigating the complex web of stakeholders and leadership – to name a few.

So it is not surprising that 70% of all projects fail without structured change initiatives. We can’t just design a transformation and hope it will work out. We need to help individuals in the organization to embrace the changes and adopt them. Welcome to the field of Change Management!

“Initiatives with excellent change management are 6 times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.”
(Prosci, 2020)

Change Management is the process of managing and guiding individuals, teams, and organizations through the changes necessary to achieve a desired outcome. It is a structured approach, which typically involves different stages, such as: 

  1. Discover and understand the challenge
  2. Decide how to deal with it (vision & strategy)
  3. Execute the change
  4. Secure and innovate based on the learnings

Change management is a process, but it is also a skill. Beyond the scope of a specific project, change management refers to a set of capabilities that organizations and individuals can attain in order to create a change engine and be better equipped for change. At SPRING TODAY, we call this the change capability.

Additionally, change management takes place across 3 different levels: individual, project and enterprise.

  • NIndividual: Supporting employees through their personal transformation
  • NProject: Implementing a specific change project to achieve a certain outcome
  • NEnterprise: Improving the change capability within an organization

Even though there are different levels, change management is built on one central idea. Change doesn’t happen in isolation. It impacts people and organizations. That’s why – ultimately – change management is aimed at helping your workforce embrace, adapt to and leverage change in their daily work.

When an organization manages to successfully implement change, the rewards are undeniable.

Benefits of change management

Change doesn’t usually happen unless there is a clear need for it. A “burning platform”, ranging anywhere between “we can be more efficient” and “the survival of our organization is at stake”.  

As discussed above, change management plays a big part in actually achieving the transformation you envision. So the main benefit is obvious: a successful transformation. And all the outcomes that may be linked to that. Whether it’s a more productive workforce, more satisfied customers, or a better culture – all of which will ultimately have a positive impact on your bottom line.

However, beyond the specific transformation outcomes, practicing change management in an organization has additional benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

A shared vision of the future

A part of managing change is identifying where it’s taking us. Together with employees or other stakeholders, we’re creating a shared vision of the future.

We can’t overstate how powerful this is. If we don’t know where we’re going, we will never arrive. So being able to set a general direction for the company and communicate it, is definitely the first step in our quest to achieve it.

More engaged employees

Happy employees are a true asset. Research shows that engaged teams are 17% more productive, have lower turnover rates, and result in 10% higher customer satisfaction.

Change management is all about the “people side of change”. Making sure employees at all levels feel part of the change, understand it, and – in the best case – even become an advocate for it. If done well, change management can boost employee engagement instead of damage it.

Change leadership and improved communication

Change leadership and communication are key in an organizational transformation. Where corporate functions are sometimes lacking expertise in this field, leaders learn a lot about communication during a change management project.

If you, as a leader in your organization, want people to feel included, providing clarity and transparency is a great first step. Make sure you answer (and keep answering) the most common questions around the transformation:

  • Why do we need to change?
  • What does this mean for me?
  • How do we embed this change in our current day-to-day operations?
  • What behavior is expected from me?

In doing so, an organization can collectively become better at communicating and leverage this capability in other areas. 

Staying within budget

Project leaders are often hesitant to adopt change management, because they consider it a cost rather than an investment. Yet, this is not reflected in the data.

Research from Prosci shows a clear correlation between excellent change management and the ability to stay on or under budget. The same is true for adhering to the schedule. This can be explained by the extra time and costs involved with redoing some of the work when a change go-live is met with resistance due to poor change management.

Increase the change capability

Change is a skill. And as with any skill, practice makes perfect. Yes, there is a theoretical foundation – like the change management models – which you are smart not to ignore. But at the same time, there is no shortcut for executing on a change management project and experiencing how your organization responds to it.

So with every transformation, your organization is honing its change capability. Going back to the VUCA world, this is one of the smartest things any leading organization can do to ensure sustained success.

The business case

Despite the overwhelming evidence that change management increases the chance of success, 76% of project managers still need to justify this investment to their top management.

Speaking their language is your best bet to get a sign-off. So create a business case for change management, with a clear and thorough cost-benefit analysis.

On the cost side, include the people you need (e.g. change and project managers), the costs of training and events, and the change management materials. 

On the benefits side, think about all the costs that can be avoided and risks that can be mitigated by investing in excellent change management. Also, calculate the impact of change management on these three people-related ROI factors: 


  • Speed of adoption: How fast do people adopt the new way of working?
  • Ultimate utilization: What percentage of employees adopt the new way of working?
  • Proficiency: How effective are people at adopting the new way of working?

It is quite a chunk of work to gather this data and compile it into a business case, but it’s worth it if it means convincing the leadership team of the added value of change management. Trust us, their buy-in will be essential throughout the transformation .


Change management models

 Now that we’ve discussed the “why” of change management, let’s dive into the “how”. More often than not, experienced change managers make use of change management models to facilitate the process.

Why? Change is complex. And we’ve already discussed that the way change is managed matters. There are certain steps to take and people to involve. Luckily, this has all been done before – successfully. No need to reinvent the wheel. A proven change model gets you in a great starting position to implement change.

But which change model should you choose? There are probably about a dozen different change models out there, but only a handful that top change leaders would agree are “must-haves” in their toolbox or bring something new to the table.

These are:

Lewin’s Change Management Model

The ADKAR Change Management Model

Kotter’s Theory

McKinsey 7-S Model

Which model to equip depends on the organization as well as the specific change challenge. Some models are more process driven, while others really center around the people part. By experimenting with a couple of different change models, you can discover which one is the best fit for your organization, or take elements from each and create your own change model.

Besides change management models, there are also a myriad of templates available for those who care to look. This will certainly make your job easier. So leverage what’s out there and if needed, mold it for your own organizational context.

What are the biggest challenges?

Don’t get me wrong – at Spring Today, we are obsessed with change management. We love everything about it. At the same time, we recognize the struggles that business leaders have while taking their first (or later) steps.

Common challenges include:

  • One change has not yet been completed and another is already around the corner
  • We need to make a big turnaround with the organization, how do we get people engaged?
  • People don’t understand why the change is needed and are not getting on board
  • Lack of support and model behavior from senior leadership
  • Leadership struggles with getting the message across and bending resistance
  • People are not aligned on the direction we need to go
  • Change was started without embedding sponsorship, change leadership, the right stakeholders and a good program management set-up
  • Within the organization, we face a lack of capabilities for the new way of working
  • We are not achieving our results because of poor adoption

Yes, it’s a big list. In size and substance. Fortunately, an experienced change manager knows how to deal with most – if not all – of these challenges. Let’s take a closer look at the role of a change manager.

The role of a change manager

Change managers are responsible for implementing the desired change in an organization. They are equipped with the necessary change management tools and models, like the ones mentioned above. They know when to select which model, and they can leverage these tools to successfully structure and carry out the change initiative.

But change managers are way more than “practitioners of models”. Change doesn’t happen in isolation. So change managers need to have the interpersonal skills to navigate complex environments with different sets of stakeholders. They need to be able to inspire leaders to show model behavior, while encouraging operators to speak up.  

They need to be empathetic, good listeners, with an almost intuitive sense of what’s going on. Subsequently, they need to be able to substantiate their feelings with data, before turning stats back into stories. All the while never losing sight of the change objective.

Are you looking for a high-impact change manager? Someone who increases the chance and level of success, helps prevent project delays, and unnecessary costs, mitigates risks, and supports a smooth implementation? Someone who can speak the language, understands the challenges of today, and knows how to create a winning organization?

We are here to help. SPRING TODAY is the one and only niche player that exclusively provides search and interim services to recruit change managers for leading organizations. Let’s talk!

Ready to elevate your change capability?

Partner with SPRING TODAY to bring in the best Change & Transformation professionals to your organization.

Don’t settle for just any “transformation manager” – work with a pro who can speak the language of the business and create a winning organization.

Contact us today and let us help you navigate through the complexities of change management with ease.

Change management | Landing page request

Ready to elevate your change capability?

Partner with SPRING TODAY to bring in the best Change & Transformation professionals to your organization.

Don’t settle for just any “transformation manager” – work with a pro who can speak the language of the business and create a winning organization.

Contact us today and let us help you navigate through the complexities of change management with ease.

Change management | Landing page request