C10.7.3.4 Key factors in change management


Change management is a basic skill in which most leaders and managers need to be competent. There are very few working environments where change management is not important.

When leaders or managers are planning to manage change, there are five key principles that need to be kept in mind:

  1. Different people react differently to change
  2. Everyone has fundamental needs that have to be met
  3. Change often involves a loss, and people go through the “loss curve”
  4. Expectations need to be managed realistically
  5. Fears have to be dealt with


Principle 1  – Different people react differently to change

Different people have different preferences for where they like to be on this spectrum. Some people like to be at the stability end of the spectrum – they like things to be the way they have always been. Other people like to be at the change end of the spectrum – they are always looking for something different and new.

Problems arise when the individual’s preferences differ from the situation they find themselves in. That is, if:

  • a stability-oriented person finds that circumstances are changing quite rapidly, or
  • a change-oriented person finds that everything is the same and there is nothing new


In these situations, the individuals involved can experience:

  • strong dissatisfaction
  • stress
  • negative attitudes towards individuals with preferences at the other end of the spectrum (eg: distrust, dislike)
  • resistance (to change, or to the status quo)
  • intense emotions
  • loss of rational judgement


People tend to resist, therefore, approaches on other parts of the spectrum than where they themselves prefer to be.

Principle 2 – Everyone has fundamental needs that have to be met

A famous psychologist called Will Schutz identified three basic needs that people have in interpersonal relations. These basic needs are also of fundamental importance in people’s reaction to change:

  • The need for control
  • The need for inclusion
  • The need for openness


Whilst the need for these can vary between people, in any change process there is always some degree of need for control over one’s environment/destiny, some degree of need to be included in the process of forming the change that is taking place, and some degree of need for managers/leaders to be open with their information.

If a change programme fails to meet the control, inclusion and openness needs of the individuals affected by it then that programme is likely to encounter a range of negative reactions, ranging from ambivalence through resistance to outright opposition.