Lewin’s 1951 three-step model to manage change in the workplace.
There are many ways of incorporating change at a work place. Many strategies have been reformed over the years of corporate management. One of the theories and subsequently the model of change was given by Kurt Lewin in 1951. Kurt Lewin was a psychologist who is considered to be the pioneer of modern organizational psychology. Mr. Lewin gave a three-step model to incorporate a change in the work place. He developed this model in the 40’ and was implemented later in the 50s and 60s. The model still holds good for the current working scenario setups. The article explains the three steps and the way they can be implemented in a specific or general workspace.
THREE STEP MODEL
The three steps, although very simple in the name have some complicated connotations. The three steps are named as unfreeze, transition and freeze.
Figure 1. Kurt Lewin model for change management
UNFREEZE – According to Mr. Kurt unfreezing is done by reducing the forces that are striving to maintain the status quo and disassemble the prevailing culture of the system. This should be done by giving the workers and supervisors a situation where they realize that the problem exists in the current culture. This will eventually make everyone realize that a change is needed. Hence the terminology of “unfreeze” which means to disassemble the process and take a step back to see the damage being done by the prevailing culture.
Tips for the Unfreeze step – It should be understood before unfreezing that change should not be inculcated just for the sake of likes and dislikes. It should be based on some sort of analysis. Some sort of order should be maintained while the unfreezing process is underway. A simultaneous method of working should be in place before the current status quo is challenged. It is also necessary for the workers and supervisors to be on board the change and the reasons for the change. These plans should not be prepared and implemented in closed offices without any reason told to the people that will be affected by that specific change. For this honesty and proper means of communication should be established otherwise the unfreezing process may fire back.
TRANSITION – According to Mr. Lewin transition relates to developing new attitudes and culture by changing the overall culture and processes in the work place. This phase accommodates for the lack of trust by the workers as change is taking place. Human nature negates change and applying the change model may come to some people as a challenge to their old working methods. Therefore, firm resolve from the management side is absolutely necessary to avoid confusion in the change process.
Tips for the Transition step – The most important factor in this step is the smooth flow of communication between the top tier and bottom tier through the middle managers. Therefore it is required for the management to be involved in the complete transition step so any sort of miscommunication can be avoided. The policy made for change should not be considered to be etched in stone, and running changes can be made when necessary to avoid any unforeseen instance. Transition step should also be broken into different steps so that the progress can be easily and effectively measured in the transition step.
FREEZE – According to the model, this is the final piece of the puzzle. This as it names states relates to the freezing of the change that has been implemented in the transition phase. This is the point of no return and old ways should not be opted for in any case. If the model is not working, another change model should be worked out to revert back the process or make it better. Once the process and change are frozen, it should not be played with.
Tips for the Freeze Step – It is important to communicate the goods that come out of the whole change process. It is necessary to involve the workers in your success as well as failures. Communication is also important in this step as it was in the previous two. Many people will try to revert to the old ways under the radar, but it is important to keep an eye on indicators that tell about this force being applied. It is necessary to freeze the process irrespective of personal motives and incentives. Only the company’s well-being should be kept as a goal. To ensure this, regular meetings with the key members should be held to understand the change and the effect it has brought in the work space or organization. Training new people in new ways is also important so that the next generation of the company follows the new culture rather than being misguided on the old methods.
The change model presented by Kurt Lewin shows that a work place or organization needs to improve consistently. For this, the change process and change management are absolutely necessary. The change once decided by analysis and process should then be implemented and constantly reviewed so that the organization moves in a positive direction over a period of time.