Application of Change Models
If you are running a business, working for a business, or even dealing with a business, then you need to have a handle on compliance. It has become an essential piece of our professional landscape. Compliance is at the forefront of everything we read and see today. You just have to look at the newspapers or turn on the news and you see politicians or CEOs of larger corporations getting indicted for wrongdoings.
At Wakefern, we have taken major strides in bringing a compliance culture and awareness into our everyday lives. Wakefern has long-enjoyed a fine reputation for integrity in our business dealings and relationships, with our Associates and customers, and in the communities we serve. It was a top initiative this past year to reach 70,000 associates and build a change the compliance culture. With online training sessions and quarterly compliance presentations, Wakefern’s goal for this change has been underway.
Understanding the Lewin’s Change Management theory and Kotter’s eight-step model has better guided the process of understanding Wakefern’s method for this change. Kurt Lewin developed a change model that involves a three steps process; unfreezing, changing and refreezing. While Kotter’s eight steps may seem longer, both process of change involves a great awareness that a change is needed, then moving toward the new change and, finally, create a new behavior that would be considered the new norm. We can relate both models as follow:
Unfreeze – relates to Stages 1 to 4
Transition – relates to Stages 5 to 6
Refreeze – relates to Stages 7 and 8
As part of the Unfreeze stages, Wakefern has created a sense of urgency, a guiding coalition, created a vision for change and communicated the vision.
This first step of Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model is the most important step according to John Kotter. By making employees aware of the need and urgency for change, support will be created. This requires and opens, honest and convincing dialogue. (Mulder, 2012)
Wakefern made their staff aware that the combination of increased regulatory oversight and consumer activism fueled by technology and social media has created somewhat of a perfect storm for companies. It is incredibly challenging to process and comply with the ever increasing myriad of regulations.
The second step is creating a guiding coalition. It is a good idea to establish a project team that can occupy itself with the changes the organization wants to implement. This group manages all efforts and encourages the employees to cooperate and take a constructive approach. (Mulder, 2012)
Wakefern understand that the biggest challenge is you don’t know what you don’t know. They have made it an initiative to open the communication of compliance. The rules are constantly changing. Staying on top of the requirements is the hard part this is why they have established a new department to the organization. It is its own dedicated compliance team.
The third step is to create a vision for change. Formulating a clear vision can help everyone understand what the organization is trying to achieve within the agreed time frame. It makes changes more concrete and creates support to implement them. (Mulder, 2012)
Wakefern’s executive staff and senior management are universally positive and supportive of compliance and ethics. This tone from the top has created an organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance. The vision is shared from the Top down.
The fourth step is communicating the vision. An organization has to create support and acceptance among the employees. This can only be achieved by talking about the new vision with the employees at every chance you get and by taking their opinions, concerns, and anxieties seriously. The new vision must be fully adopted across the entire organization. (Mulder, 2012)
Wakefern has created a new yearly Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week. It is organized each year by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics. The Wakefern’s Compliance team holds a meeting and promote compliance awareness. Each day of this week every associate gets a new survey to be completed.
As part of Lewin’s transitions stages, it can be related to the next couple steps; the fifth step requires to remove obstacles. Before the change is accepted at all levels, it is crucial to change or, if necessary, remove obstacles that could undermine the vision. (Mulder, 2012)
To encourage acceptance of the compliance culture, it is incorporated and implemented in the change process. Wakefern has over $10 billion of accounts payable transactions per year and the payment of 70,000 associates’ payroll checks every week. This is why we have an Internal Audit department that evaluates adherence to company policies and procedures every day so we can highlight deficiencies and make appropriate recommendations to strengthen controls.
The sixth step is creating short-term wins. Nothing motivates more than success. Create short-term goals so that the employees have a clear idea of what is going on. When the goals have been met, the employees will be motivated to fine-tune and expand the change. (Mulder, 2012)
By conducting yearly surveys and presenting them in our company web portal, Wakefern has closed the informational gap. Wakefern has built on its values of communication. This is why all of Wakefern’s staff are aware of what conduct is and isn’t acceptable and how to avoid situations that have the potential to alter your decision-making as a Wakefern associate.
As part of Lewin’s Refreeze stages, it can be related to the next couple steps; the seventh step is to consolidate improvements. According to John Kotter, many change trajectories fail because victory is declared too early. However, change is a slow-going process and it must be driven by the overall corporate culture. (Mulder, 2012)
This could not be more accurate. Wakefern has explained to their associates that as the government continues to add cost and complexity to our business, our Compliance team will continue to help us navigate this new landscape and avoid litigation. They have made it clear that this will be part of our ever-changing business environment.
Finally, as the eight-step is anchoring the changes. A change will only become part of the corporate culture when it has become a part of the core of the organization. Change does not come about by itself. Values and standards must agree with the new vision and the employees’ behavior must provide a seamless match. Employees must continue to support the change. Regular evaluation and discussions about progress help consolidate the change. (Mulder, 2012)
As explained previously, Wakefern has not only established a team for this initiative, they have also made it part of our yearly calendar. This change has become a firm part of the structure of our organization.
Despite all the similarities, people are much more likely to absorb three stages than eight. This is why the Lewin model would be better accepted. In the processes of change, the new vision must be given a strong place within the organization. It requires to be presented in the proper way and will require having the support of its employees. This way when it is time to unfreeze, the trust and support will have already been established.
Collins, V. S. (2015, December 14). Lewin vs Kotter Change Models. Retrieved from http://www.velopi.com/news/pmi-pmp-free-project-management-resource-Kotter
Morrison, M. (2010, January 22). Kurt Lewin change theory and three step model – Unfreeze-Change-Freeze. Retrieved from https://rapidbi.com/kurt-lewin-three-step-change-theory/
Mulder, P. (2012, December 11). Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model: learn to lead organisational change | ToolsHero. Retrieved from https://www.toolshero.com/CHANGE-MANAGEMENT/8-STEP-CHANGE-MODEL-KOTTER/