Understanding Lewin’s 3-Part Change Model for Improving Leadership

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When a business or organization is established, there will expectedly be initially-set norms and practices that serve as a foundation for their culture. As time passes, however, there are bound to be changes within the dynamics and policies of the organization, depending on the preferences and necessities of the workers. Inevitably, work culture may become stagnant and boring without at least a little change every now and then. Adjustments in policies can also be crucial in the case that the current norms are becoming detrimental to the company. So what can be done when change is needed?

Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist, believed that the process of change entails creating the perception that it is indeed needed. This follows with transitioning into new norms, and finally, cementing them into the company’s culture. With this, Lewin’s 3-Part Change Model was born. Oftentimes, organization leaders and administrators use this model as a framework to figure out the next steps into how to transition into new practices that would benefit them and their employees. To further understand this model, let’s delve into its three basic stages.

Unfreezing

When you unfreeze an object, it means letting it melt a bit to give it some air to move. In terms of systematic change, unfreezing means to thaw out an already-existing norm and re-evaluate its effectiveness. Some ways to unfreeze can be to point out unfavorable results, declining results, or negative customer reports. Any evidence that proves to be a detrimental repercussion should allow employees to understand why change needs to be implemented. 

Furthermore, this will allow them to see another perspective and re-examine their habits, hence shaking them out of their existing mindsets. This stage may be challenging for some, especially those who already benefit from the status quo. While those kinds of people can be resistant to change, it is important in this initiation period to remind everyone that this is being tried out so that they can all benefit from it. The end goal is always to change for the better.

Change

Now that people are unfrozen, they have the freedom to move. This is the stage where people experiment and look for new ways to do things. The proposal of change allows for people to transition by trying new policies or practices that could be more beneficial. Everyone is going to have to try to learn new things and erase old habits, and that’s all part of the process. There’s ought to be learning curves as well, which shouldn’t be worrisome. As long as everyone is doing their part to try to make the necessary adjustments, this phase shouldn’t be as taxing as it seems to be.

The transition process can sometimes be long, as it can never be fully determined as to how much time it will take to figure out what new practices will work. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your colleagues to figure out what will benefit you.

Refreezing

When you have figured out what works, it’s time to set it in stone. Reinforce the new policies by revising your company’s constitution or handbook, perhaps, or send out an organization-wide memorandum officially informing everyone of the changes. Whatever it is, this needs to be done so that it can be more embedded into the company’s culture. This will help prevent members from slipping back into old habits that didn’t work before. 

Make sure to acknowledge and celebrate the change as well. Putting a lot of dedication into this refreezing stage is crucial because doing otherwise will have everyone stuck in the transition phase. This process affected everyone and it’s important to recognize it so that your colleagues can have a sense of closure.

Lewin’s Change Model can essentially serve as a baseline for anyone in an organization who needs to implement an important change. With that, be sure to follow the three aforementioned stages in order to get effective and positive results.

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