As businesses continue to deal with challenges that emerged throughout the pandemic, they are having to adapt to the changing landscape of the workforce. From labor shortages to hybrid workdays and remote workers, managing complex change requires organizations to be proactive and plan ahead to ensure they remain competitive. The managing complex change matrix developed by John Kotter offers an organized and effective strategy for organizations of all sizes to navigate change successfully and is one of the most utilized. But how can you take this framework and implement it in your organization?

While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to change, using a matrix for managing it can provide the needed guidance for organizations dealing with the ever-changing nature of workforce dynamics. By understanding this matrix and its components, you can develop a strategy that will help your organization navigate change and be successful in the new world of work.

Model for Managing Complex Change
Four Principles of Change Management

Four principles are at the core of Kotter’s matrix for managing complex change. These provide guidelines on how to approach and lead change in a way that considers its impact across an organization. The four principles include:

Select Few + Diverse Many: To ensure that everyone is included and can benefit from the change process, it is essential to form a coalition of key stakeholders from across all levels of the organization. This group should be small enough so that decisions can be made quickly and efficiently, yet also diverse enough to guarantee that all points of view are taken into account. Having representation from different departments, positions, and backgrounds will help to ensure that no one is overlooked or left behind during times of change. Additionally, it will provide the opportunity for everyone’s opinions and contributions to be heard, allowing for a genuinely impactful change process.

Have To + Want To: For organizational change to become a permanent and successful part of the culture, it is essential that employees understand not only why it is necessary but also embrace it and be dedicated to its success. To create an atmosphere in which this engagement can take place, a sense of urgency must be instilled. Such an atmosphere can be created by demonstrating how the change will benefit all parties involved and creating an inspiring vision of the future that can be achieved. Additionally, providing incentives to those who fully commit to the process will motivate employees to embrace the change and make it a success.  In this way, both “have-to” and “want-to” attitudes are established.

Head + Heart: Change can be an emotional event to experience, and it is important to recognize the potential psychological impacts of change on individuals. People may feel a wide array of emotions during the process, such as fear, confusion, doubt, anger, or concern. It is crucial for leaders to acknowledge these various reactions and address any worries with empathy and understanding. It is also important to provide channels of communication, such as meetings and online forums, so that everyone can express their thoughts and concerns in a safe environment throughout the process. By ensuring all voices are heard, leaders can build trust with those affected by the change and help ensure a successful transition.

Management + Leadership: Both components must work together to effectively manage complex change. Managers play a key role in providing direction, establishing processes, and managing resources while leaders provide the vision, inspiration, and motivation necessary to ensure progress is made. It’s this combination of skills that allows organizations to follow a course of action to the desired outcome. The ability of leaders and managers to coordinate and communicate efficiently is essential for the successful implementation of change, as well as for maintaining a collaborative environment where team members are fully engaged. Working together, good management and strong leadership can make complex change a success.

By utilizing an outsourced HR service like Corban OneSource, experienced in helping organizations with 75 to 6,000 employees, you can better understand and apply the four principles of successful change management. We can provide experienced HR professionals to help you develop an effective plan, create an engaging vision for the future, manage tasks and resources, and keep your organization on track throughout each stage of the change process.

Taking the Next Steps in Change Management

The changing workforce is one of the most pressing issues facing businesses today when looking at any matrix for managing complex change and your company culture. The workforce is shifting rapidly, with a growing need for hybrid workdays and labor shortages in some areas. Companies must be proactive to ensure they remain competitive in this ever-changing landscape. Companies should take a proactive approach to managing change, starting with creating a sense of urgency. This can be done by communicating the need for change and showing how it will benefit the company in the long run.

The next step is building a guiding coalition of early adopters who will help communicate needs and initiatives to guide change. After that, a strategic vision and initiatives must be formed – one that paints a picture of what life will look like after the change. It should emphasize the importance of how this new approach will benefit the company and help everyone understand why it’s worth making the change. When managing change leaders can form a strategic vision and include initiatives for each team, with a focus on removing any barriers that could impact progress. Making sure all employees have the resources, tools, and training they need to carry out their tasks is essential to ensure successful change. Be it remote tools, new software, or online training resources – having the right tools and resources in place can help ensure smooth change management.

Leaders should also strive to generate short-term wins that keep everyone motivated and focused on the long-term goal. Celebrating small successes along the way helps build morale and gives team members something to look forward to. Leaders should also sustain the momentum by leaning into change and continuing to recognize achievements. When leaders are faced with change, enlisting volunteers in the form of support or sponsors can help get the job done.

When managing the changing workforce, you can enable action by removing barriers. Organizations should take the time to assess where employees are facing challenges due to structural issues such as silos, poor communication, or inefficient processes. Identifying these barriers and finding ways to break them down can help ensure that progress is made smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, celebrating the results of successful change can go a long way in fostering an environment of progress and success.

Organizations should also consider implementing flexible work schedules that accommodate the various needs of employees. With labor shortages occurring across many industries, there is an increased need for more diverse and flexible working options. Hybrid work days can be an effective way of accommodating a changing workforce while still keeping the organization productive. Allowing employees to have some level of autonomy in their daily lives can go a long way in creating happy, fulfilled employees.

Organizations should also recognize that not all changes are permanent. With the ever-changing nature of the workforce, organizations need to be flexible and adaptable. Rather than sticking to rigid policies and processes, companies should consider creating a more agile approach. By viewing change as an opportunity rather than a roadblock, organizations can better manage their changing workforce.

Managing Complex Change with Outsourcing

Outsourced HR can be a great complement to managing complex change matrix and reducing costs. Human Resource Management is integral to any successful organizational transformation and the outsourced partner can provide customized support to meet the needs of the organization. By providing a suite of services like payroll management, employee onboarding, workforce planning, compliance, and HR technology implementation, the outsourced HR partner can help ensure that all aspects of the change management process are addressed efficiently and effectively.

Corban OneSource is a leader in providing comprehensive HR services, with experience in helping companies with 75 to 6,000 employees manage their change initiatives successfully. From start to finish Corban OneSource delivers a tailored approach that caters to each organization’s needs to help ensure a smoother transition as you move through the process of organizational change. With Corban OneSource, organizations have access to knowledgeable HR professionals who understand both the challenges and opportunities of managing complex change. View our full HR services here and see how outsourced HR can help make your organizational transformation a success.