Lead change using the Three-stage model of the change process

Change is inevitable, so managing change shouldn’t just be an expectation but a leader’s core responsibility. A few years ago, I stumbled on the Three-stage model of the Change Process by Edgar Schein, which I’ve successfully adapted in multiple organizational interventions.

It goes something like this:

Stage 1: Unfreezing
Creating motivation and mentally preparing the teams about the change by educating them on why change is needed. The idea behind this step is not to create anxiety but to provide for employees’ psychological safety.

Stage 2: Cognitive restructuring.
This step builds on to the educational aspect of the previous stage by helping not just the employees but also the stakeholders to see, judge, feel, and react to things differently based on the new points of view obtained while carrying out your research and analysis process.

Stage 3: Refreezing
The final stage helps everyone integrate the new point of view, often resulting in improved personalities and self-concepts that help the organization perform better. It’s also common to observe new and significant relationships built during the change process that further shape the evolved company culture.

The three-stage process isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of change models. There are hundreds of others out there, but the one above was a simpler model that I could adapt and use effectively. If you’re new to managing change, I suggest hiring an external consultant or an organizational development specialist to serve as an internal consultant to drive change.

Either way, you can’t expect things not to change, so you might as well be ready for what’s to come in the future.

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