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Change Management trends

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This content is part of the Change Management Profession series of articles, and explains the latest challenges that are currently being debated by those responsible for achieving organisational change around the world. Work down the page to see how these trends have evolved each year.

Key Trends in Change Management for 2021

The defining change initiative for 2021 is creating the “new normal” or hybrid working, to respond to the challenges we faced in 2020.

I work with an increasing number of executives who tell me how much they hate the phrase “hybrid working”. When we talk, the reasons for this strong emotion stem from their anger that things have changed, and this is another complex issue they must deal with. If you are facing a similar situation, I hope you find this guidance useful.

Whatever we want to call it, post pandemic working practices in the knowledge economy will be different. More than a year of working from home has put where and with whom we work on the agenda. Employees all have different needs, and there is a spectrum of desire for a return to the office and staying at home permanently.

Spectrum of choices for hybrid working

In my experience of running workshop to help organisations define the scope of their hybrid working, one conclusion we return to time and again is that you cannot please all the people. We need to have a grown-up conversation that considers factors other than what employees want. We must look at this through the needs of our customers, our suppliers, and our organisations.


Let us start by looking at customer need for connectivity, access to information and the ‘human touch’ of relationships with your staff that are consistent and stable. How much have customers done for themselves in the pandemic? How much access to information and services do they want online? Do they expect hours of service to have migrated more to 24/7 because their own working hours have changed?


How are our suppliers working, what innovations are they making, what points of connectivity will we have with them? Have their hours of operation changed, have they automated more processes, have they moved more things to “self-service” so that we must do more to access the supplies we need?

Our organisations

As an organisation we have statutory responsibilities for pay and conditions, and that includes health and safety and complying with taxation rules. How much equipment can we supply for working from home before we become liable for the health and safety of your home as a remote workspace? How much access to data are we happy to provide remotely, not knowing who else is in your workspace and the security of this data? Can we meet our strategic objectives if a large amount of management time is spent coordinating resources who don’t want to meet face to face with those who do, at different times and in different locations?

Defining our future

Whatever style of working we adopt, this is a cultural change, so I have found it important to get those involved to paint a detailed picture of their current values and beliefs, the glue that holds everyone together. Effectively we end up describing the magic of the organisation, the reasons everyone wants to work there in the first place.

We can use this to evaluate the attractiveness and the practicality of all the ideas that form our new approach. I have found the advantage of this approach is that by using our culture as the starting point, we move away from the singular issue of what works for each employee, and we keep “the greater good” on the agenda.


One this is for sure, an autocratic decision on future working practices does not work – just look at Apply Inc this week, and the reaction of their staff to the statement that they are expected back in the office at least 3 days a week.

Key Trends in Change Management for 2020

Obviously the pandemic changed all of our priorities. This summary is how our concerns and priorities played out, starting in March 2020 and moving through to the end of the year. The start times and duration for each of these three stages varied by organisation, but this table gives us a useful gauge of how people were feeling and how they approached their work:

Impact of Covid on organisational change

Key Trends in Change Management in 2019

The key trends discussed in this webinar are:

• More techniques to manage the high volumes of change organisations continue to experience.

• The impact of Agile approaches on change management activities.

• Identifying ways to standardise change activities to help broaden the number of roles that can undertake them.

These trends are going to impact those with existing change and transformation roles, and those working in project and programme roles and PMOs/CMOs.

Key Trends in Change Management for 2019 – my predictions!

It is December 2018, and these are my predictions for the issues and challenges that I think will shape our change management profession in 2019. A lot of the trends I am seeing now have a common theme: they are all driven by the impact of high volumes of change. This impact is felt by those leading individual initiatives as well as those in the business who are trying to develop new ways of working whilst maintaining acceptable levels of “business as usual”.

The challenges generated by increasingly high volumes of change include: • Increased awareness of the need for change management

  • The need to accurately map the impact of all the changes on individual business units
  • The need for effective sponsorship
  • The need to build internal capacity for change management

In this paper I will explore the issues and share examples of how forward thinking organisations are addressing them.

Trends in Change Management 2019

Key trends in Change Management 2018 – mid year assessment!

It is July 2018 and I have been reviewing the paper I wrote about trends in Change Management for 2018. I think some of my predictions are coming true and some of them have evolved so thought you might enjoy this interim status report!

Explaining the value of change management

The measures to track if our change activities are working continues to develop. I am asked to develop a suite of measures to track awareness, participation and adoption prior to measuring the financial benefits of what has changed as a regular part of my assignments now.

This links to role of Sponsor, with increasing awareness from senior managers and executives that sponsoring a change initiative is different to sponsoring a project. The questions they have to ask to track progress and detect issues are more centred on how people feel about the new ways of working and how many are participating in creating them, practising and implementing them, rather than a simple review of a plan to see what has been ticked off.

Further integration with other disciplines

Probably the closest links are being forged with those responsible for Portfolio Management as there is increasing awareness that understanding the full scale of the all the change initiatives taking place is an essential tool in being able to manage the high volumes of change that organisations are committed to.

I think running a close second is the recognition that project management and change management need to collaborate, and the interest by forward thinking Project Managers that change management is an important skill for them. I am seeing an increased willingness by project teams to be involved in the identification and planning of the activities the business need to carry out if the project deliverables are to be successfully adopted.

Increasing maturity of change management

I chaired a session of change professionals recently, who identified that the role of central change teams needs to evolve. There is still a need to provide guidance on how to manage change, but these central teams of change experts need to concentrate on transferring their skills to the wider population within their organisation. They need to facilitate the planning of change activities by the business, so they are doing change to themselves and not having it done to them. The reasons for these changes link directly to the volume of change initiatives, and the impossibility of a central team controlling everything.

This links to other work I have done this year on democratising change management, where organisations are keen to build networks of volunteers to lead the change within their teams, and to build these networks early in the life of the transformation. Increasingly it is how these networks are supported and encouraged that forms the responsibilities of a central team of change managers.


Change Management is an evolving profession, we continue to develop our techniques and our approaches in a world where the pace of change is increasing in speed. Do you agree with these predictions/trends? I would love to hear your comments so please share your thoughts.

Key trends in Change Management in 2018

In this webinar I discuss how the change management profession is changing, and the impact this has on your career opportunities and personal development choices. Melanie will give us a tour through the key trends that will shape change management in the next 12 months including:

  1. More effort will be spent on explaining the value of change management
  2. Further integration with project management
  3. Greater recognition of the need for change management including:
    1. More demand for qualified/experienced change leaders
    1. Organisations will build stronger internal capability for change

These trends are going to impact those with existing change and transformation roles, and those working in project and programme roles and PMOs/CMOs.

Click here to listen to the recording

Change management is a young profession which continues to develop in scope, maturity and the number of those adopting it. In this paper I attempt to predict what I think will be the most impactful developments in business change management for 2018.

My thoughts are based on the demands I receive from clients in the private, public and not for profit sector, as well as a review of the latest insights from the big consultancies, universities and the professional body for change management, the Change Management Institute.

I think the key trends will include:
§ More effort will be spent on explaining the value of change management
§ Further integration with project management and links to Agile approaches
§ Increasing maturity of change management as a practice