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Change Management Process: A Complete Guide


Change Management Process Blog Header

If there’s one thing that you can count on, it’s change.

New technologies, competitors, regulations and norms require companies to stay flexible to stay relevant. The organizational landscape is always shifting, but the past year has brought unforeseen challenges. Organizations were caught off guard—unprepared for remote work, supply shortages, and employees facing the reality of teaching their children at home.

Organizations weren’t prepared. None of us was prepared. How can you prepare for something nobody expected? Sometimes external factors force you out of your comfort zone.

Change can go smoothly if you plan for it. But even unexpected changes can be managed well if you have the property tools. The field of change management seeks to provide a framework for change that effectively reduces friction and churn.

Read our blog for a clear explanation of change management and what’s involved in the change management process. You can then learn how you can support your change management initiative with visuals (infographics) and how Venngage for Business can help you accomplish your change management goals.


Click to jump ahead:


What is change management?

Change management refers to the process that an organization or leader follows to create change. Many of the steps and activities related to change management are universal, which means that they apply to individuals as well as small and large organizations. Best practices for change management apply to changes in process, approach and even culture.


Who is responsible for change management?

Change Management Process Responsibility

Change requires the investment of many stakeholders. There are five main roles in change management:

  • Practitioners: Practitioners are the individuals who lay the groundwork for the change through plans and strategies.
  • Sponsors: Sponsors are individuals with influence in the organization who support and promote the change.
  • People managers: People managers help to drive the change as an advocate and coach, working directly with their subordinates.
  • Project managers: Project managers operationalize the change and see the change initiative through to adoption.
  • People: These are the individual employees who must eventually adopt the change.


Why is change management so hard?

Change is hard for many people. When you try to manage change in an organization with multiple people involved, it gets even harder.

To succeed, you will need to be doggedly focused on achieving your objective. It’s kind of like parenting. There will be days when everybody seems to be on the same page and you think, ok, yeah! We’ve got this.

Other days you find yourself in the Valley of Despair (more information on this below). In the Valley of Despair, you will wonder what you got yourself into, unsure if you’ve even got what it takes to do the job.

The truth about change is that it takes time, and over the course of that time people have to choose to buy into that change every single day until it becomes second nature. Keeping people on board is a real challenge for leadership.

What do leaders need to successfully manage the process of change? Patience, persistence, resilience, and of course, great training materials.


What are the 3 stages of change?

There are three stages that we all go through when we experience change.

1. Unfreezing

The first stage is unfreezing. Some experts refer to this unfreezing process as getting “unstuck”. The way that you have always done it isn’t going to work anymore, so you need to let all that go.

Unfreezing means accepting that change is happening and being open to participating in the process.

2. Changing

Once you’ve thawed out, you are ready for the changing phase. Here is where you begin to put into practice your new methods or strategies.

At the organizational level, this may be where you update all of your new passwords to meet the company’s new security protocols.

At the individual level, this may be where you learn to stop eating pizza after ten. See? Change can be great!

3. Freezing

Finally, you reach the freezing stage. This is when you take what you have learned and make it stick.


3 steps in the change management process

Change at the enterprise level is very similar, though on a much larger scale. Unlike many individual changes, organizational level change is very complex and requires a veritable mountain of paperwork. Let’s look at what is need at each level of an organizational change management process.

1. Preparing for Change

Preparing for change at the organizational level means doing an in-depth analysis of training needs and working to build a coalition around the change initiative.

2. Managing Change

Here is where you really get your hands dirty. Big changes require lots of nurturing and endless amounts of cheerleading, supporting, guiding and informing.

3. Reinforcing Change

The truth is the work of change is never really done. Even after victory has been declared, you must continue to reinforce the change, evaluating and adjusting as needed.


3. What is the emotional cycle of change for employees?

Change Management Process Emotion Cycle


Change is more than just learning how to do things differently. It can also be an emotional roller-coaster. The emotional cycle of change looks like a u-curve, going through the following phases:

1. Uninformed Optimism

In this phase, ignorance is bliss. You have all the optimism in the world because you don’t know what you don’t know. As a manager, you want to strike while the iron’s hot and gin up as much enthusiasm as you can.

2. Informed Pessimism

Now that you know a little more about the change and have discussed it passionately with your coworkers, you hate it. This is a great time for managers to promote the goals of the change.

3. Valley of Despair

Now you’re fully in the weeds. Your employees’ early enthusiasm and fervor are gone and right now it just feels like a grind. For managers, this is also a challenging time, but effective and frequent communication can get you over the hump.

4. Informed Optimism

And then, a breakthrough. A small one, but still, a step in the right direction. Things are looking up! Begin to share the small successes that your team achieves along the way.

5. Success and Fulfillment

One day you’ll look around and realize that the change you were looking for is finally here. Well done! Now you can take what you have learned and apply it somewhere else.


How do I evaluate my change management process?

Throughout your change management process, it’s important to stay in a cycle of continuous evaluation. Evaluating your change management process helps you keep track of what’s working, what’s not, and what’s next. Here are some questions that you can use to evaluate how you’re doing:

  • Did we meet the goals we set?
  • What does the feedback say?
  • Did we deliver on time?
  • Are we getting the return on investment we hoped for?
  • Did we stick to the budget?

Not to mention, as you report out the positive impacts of your change management program, you can increase and solidify buy-in from managers and employees. Everybody likes a winner. Share your successes both big and small.


Change management process FAQ

1. What are 4 things that are key to change management?

  • Communication
  • Planning
  • Training
  • Review

2. What are change management tools?

  • Readiness assessments
  • Communication plans
  • Internal Change Communications
  • Change Management Training for Leaders
  • Change Management Training for Employees
  • Feedback

3. What is the first stage for change management?

Preparing your organization for change involves evaluating the stakeholders impacted by the change and gaining buy-in to help you promote the change. You should do an in-depth analysis of what your organization needs to get unstuck and develop a clear roadmap for the path ahead.

4. What are the 2 types of change management?

Technically, there are two types of change management: individual and organizational.

However, remember that change management goes through the same process regardless of whether it is a change for thousands or just for you. One change requires a ton of paperwork and the other requires a lot of self-discipline.

Which one is harder? That part’s up to you.


Support your change management initiative with infographics

Do you know what your change management project needs?

High-quality documentation with high-impact visuals!

Data visualizations like infographics are one of the most effective tools for change management communication. Fortunately, you don’t have to hire a designer when you can use these templates to create graphics, presentations, checklists, and much more. Let’s check out a few:

Readiness assessments

Every change begins from where you stand right now. This template can be used to assess your organization’s current skills, beliefs, and attitudes. The data you collect will give you insights on when, where, and how your change management communications should be handled.

Change Management Process Infographic Leadership Skills Checklist Template


Communication plans

These templates for communication plans can be used to convey important information to your stakeholders, setting expectations for how communications about the change process will be delivered, and who employees should go to in a crisis.

Change Management Process Infographic Template Communications Plan


Change Management Process Crisis Communication Plan Infographic Template


Internal change communications

When it comes to the management of change processes, how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. Using these templates, you can establish a standard for communication across stakeholders.

Change Management Process Infographic Template Leadership Team Communication


Change Management Process Infographic Newsletter Template Monthly Company Update


Change management training for leaders

Presentations are powerful tools for learning when they are well-organized, thoughtfully designed, and full of relevant content. This template is easy to personalize for your presentation.

Change Management Process Infographic Presentation Template Employee Engagement


Change management training for employees

With most organizational change efforts comes new processes and procedures. Some might even say that is the worst part. No more. With this template, you can create an attractive reference that employees will keep and use.

Change Management Process Infographic Template Customer Onboarding



You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s broken. Collecting feedback is another essential part of change. This customizable template can help you create a survey that people will actually respond to.

Change Management Process Infographic Template Customer Satisfaction Survey


In summary

Creating change can take a long, long time. If you don’t want to have to keep repeating yourself or cleaning up misunderstandings or confusion, investing in high-quality documentation and training aids is a great choice.

With Venngage for Business, even people without any previous design experience can create high-impact documents that employees and other stakeholders can use for ongoing training and reference. Help your change stick with memorable visuals so you can focus on what’s next.





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