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Change Management Strategies to Reduce Resistance and Ease Acceptance

Written by: Sara Austin

Apr 12, 2021

Change Management Strategy Blog Header

Change occurs in organizations every day. Some changes are really small, like when employees need to follow a new process for reporting time off. Some changes are huge, like when an organization decides to change its mission, product, or services.

How can you get your team on board and keep them on board? That’s where your change management strategy is extra important. Clear and engaging visuals can help you promote your change and provide all stakeholders with the information they need.

Venngage for Business offers simple templates that you can use to create high-impact visuals for your change management strategies and you don’t even have to be a graphic designer. With little to no experience, you can use our templates to deliver the right message at the right time to the right people.

Click to jump ahead:

What is a change management strategy?

A change management strategy is a systematic roadmap for change that includes all of its moving parts, including stakeholders, resources, timeline, budget, communication plan, and workflows. This infographic offers a snapshot of a roadmap for change.

Change Management Strategy Blue Robotics Technology Infographic Template

Wondering what’s involved in a change management process and how infographics can support your change management initiative? Read our blog on Change Management Process: Gaining Buy-in and Overcoming Resistance with Infographics.

Why do you need a change management strategy?

A change management strategy is essential for managing the people and processes needed to achieve the transformation. You can’t expect people to just follow along if you haven’t taken the time to communicate with them about what is happening and why.

There are four common reasons why people might resist change:

1. They don’t understand the change

Most resistance to change ties back to a lack of understanding of what the change is for and how it will benefit them. The way managers communicate information about the change is critical for how the change is perceived.

RelatedEffective Communication for Change Management: Infographics for Transformative Leadership

The infographic below provides a clear 5-step framework that helps you communicate change management strategy effectively to your team:

Change Management Strategy Communicating Strategy Framework Template

2. They aren’t open to change

We have a little bit of this in all of us. Change is hard, and there is only so much change we can take on at once. Create some engaging graphics and share them with your employees. The right words at the right time can make all the difference.

Change Management Strategy LinkedIn Quote Post Template

3. They don’t think the change will benefit them or the organization

This comes back to the communication piece. Have you effectively communicated to your employees how this change will benefit both them and the company?

An infographic such as this one not only shows each phase of the change management plan, but also reiterates why the change is needed.

Change Management Strategy Franchise Strategic Roadmap

4. They fear that they will lose something they value.

Do you know what is most important to your employees? If not, have you asked? Organizational changes can impact many aspects of the work we do. We may fear losing our jobs or losing the status of our position.

In a past job, senior leaders announced a major reorganization. As they unveiled the new organizational chart, it appeared that they had left one entire department out. At the time, leaders said they were still trying to decide where that department belonged in their new organizational structure, but in truth, they were planning to get rid of that entire division (and did so, eight months later).

Can you see how such actions can breed distrust—not only with the division that was laid off—but throughout the organization? The rest of the organization was correct in being on guard. Within a year, the organization had reduced its workforce by 60%.

What are the main change management strategies?

Your strategy for change will depend on the type of change you are trying to achieve, be it developmental, transitional or transformational change.

Developmental changes are often laser-focused on just the people and processes involved in one aspect of the business. Transitional and transformational changes often require more sweeping changes that impact multiple departments or teams.

Let’s talk more about these three different types of change management.

1. Transitional change

Transitional changes are org-level changes such as mergers and acquisitions. Managing change at this level can be challenging because you may be bringing in people from another company or division to work with you.

2. Developmental change

Developmental changes are changes to existing processes or procedures to make them more effective. With these relatively minor changes, you are generally working with a smaller team. Close-knit teams can be a gift or a curse. If you can get them on your team right away, that’s great. Careful communication can help you avoid seeing resistance among one or two members who poison the whole team dynamic.

3. Transformational change

Transformational changes are those that seek to transform the company, its products and services, or its ways of doing business. This change can be the hardest to achieve and can cause the most resistance. You will have to answer the question, “What was wrong with how we were doing it before?”

Whether you are initiating a transitional, developmental, or transformational change, providing a comprehensive guide such as this one will give your employees all the information they need about the change at a glance. This resource can serve as an ongoing reference throughout the process.

Change Management Strategy Blue Grid Housing Project Plan Template

How do you create a change management strategy?

There are six steps to create an effective change management strategy:

1. Set your goal

Success begins with S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting. Using this template, you can develop goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

Change Management Strategy SMART Goal Infographic Template

Once you have defined your goals, you can move on to the next step.

2. Assemble your squad

A leader is only as good as their team. When you are leading a change management effort, you need to assemble a team that can help you share, promote, advance and operationalize the change.

However, not everybody knows what it means to be a good team member. This list infographic can help you understand the how-to of building effective teams, thus allows you to articulate the importance of every member of the team and set expectations for how all members will work together to achieve the goals you have set.

Change Management Strategy Building Effective Team Infographic Template

3. Develop your plan

You know where you want to go, but now you have to develop a plan for getting there. These templates can help you create timelines that show all stakeholders what is happening now, and what comes next.

Change Management Strategy Infographic Template Marketing Project Timeline

Change Management Strategy 5 Stage Planning Process Hospital Timeline

4. Do the work

Change happens when we do the work. Using a workflow like a Kanban board can help keep you and your team organized and on track. With this template, you can create a colorful chart to track your backlog, work in progress, and what’s already been accomplished.

Also read: 7 Change Management Tools to Simplify Change Processes and Effectively Manage Change

Change Management Strategy Kanban Brainstorming Workflow Board Template

5. Reinforce to counter resistance

While we don’t want to micro-manage, frequent check-ins with your team can help you identify hiccups before they become problems, and keep your team focused on their goals and how the work they do helps to drive the change effort forward.

A template like this can help you set expectations for team communication and combat resistance to change by keeping the lines of communication open:

Change Management Strategy Team Communication Strategies Mind Map

6. Review and iterate

Change is never really over. Even when we’ve arrived at our destination, we have already started thinking about what’s next. With every change effort, we must continually review our progress and iterate as necessary. Using a form like this template can help you provide a project snapshot.

Change Management Strategy Mobile Project Status Report Template

What are the 7 R’s of change management?

There are seven essential questions to ask as you develop a change management strategy. Asking these questions will help you develop a clear vision for the change and prepare you to overcome resistance to the change.

You will be asked these questions by the members of your team. Be prepared to answer them honestly so that you can build trust and team cohesion.


“Why are we doing this?”

Answering this question helps you identify the reason behind the change initiative and see how feasible it is.


“What could go wrong?”

Risks are involved in any change management initiative. By answering this question, you identify the risks associated with the change request and have a chance to consider how much risk you’re going to allow without sabotaging the project.


“What do we need?”

This question asks that you measure your resources so you’re not going forward with a change project without a clear view on how much time and how many resources needed to actually deliver the change.


“Whose idea was this anyway?”

Knowing the person that came up with the change request is extremely important, as that person understands the rationale behind the change and has the evidence to support the initiative.


“What do we hope to get from this change?”

The outcome you anticipate from the change should be enough so that it’s worth it to do the work.


“Who’s in charge of leading this change?”

The person coming up with the request isn’t necessarily the one who’s responsible for creating, testing and implementing the change. Make sure you identify the right person to take charge of the change initiative so it can go smoothly.


“What other changes are involved?”

Changes can be interdependent. Figuring out the relationships between the proposed change and other changes paves way for a smoother change management process.

Related: 8 Change Management Models and How To Apply Them

What are the 5 key elements of successful change management?

Experienced change leaders know that there are five key elements to a successful change management effort. If you can clearly define these elements, you have the tools you need to drive change and overcome resistance.

The goal

If you can define it, you can reach it. A clear articulation of your goals is key to a successful change management strategy. This template allows you to share your high-level goal, your incremental milestones, and how all the pieces of the strategy work to advance the team towards its goal.

Change Management Strategy Infographic Business Strategy Marketing Roadmap Template

The team

Motivating a team takes more than just impassioned speeches and promises of higher profits. Gamifying your change can help you overcome resistance and get your team members excited. This template shows a leaderboard that tracks the number of courses completed by team members but could be altered to measure sales, customer contacts, and many more metrics.

Change Management Strategy Team Department Goals Leaderboard Infographic

The what

Who does what and when? This project timeline template can help you organize your team’s work in an easy-to-read format.

Change Management Strategy Corporate Weekly Project Gantt Chart

The rules

What are the rules for this change? What do you want your team members to do and not do? Make the rules easy to remember with a well-organized graphic such as this one.

Change Management Strategy New User Onboarding Dos Donts SaaS

The future

What does the future look like? What changes will be needed next? Change leaders can’t rest just because things are going well, they must always be looking to the future.

In summary: Having a clear change management strategy supported with visuals increases the chances of it being implemented successfully

Whatever the change effort, communication is the key. Most leaders don’t have the time or skills to create these awesome graphics to support their change effort but have no fear. Venngage makes it easy for leaders to create high-quality graphics without any previous graphic design skills.

Our easy-to-use templates are designed to be simple for beginners. With just a click you can add in your information and customize fonts, colors, and graphics to fit your taste. From timelines to workflows, we have templates to help you put your best foot forward.

About Sara Austin

Sara Austin is a Learning Designer and freelance writer who has been published on sites such as fismacs.com. She has a master’s degree in Instructional Technology and a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Sara is a member of the Academic Advisory Board at Academic Influence.