Guide to a Managing Change Successfully in Australian Universities

Posted: 01/11/2023

With systems and trends always evolving in the higher education sector, academic institutions should be able to manage change and implement change to respond and thrive in today’s dynamic environment. Institutions of higher learning must adopt an effective change management process that enables them to adjust effectively during an organisational transformation.

This blog post will provide an outline for implementing an effective change management program which includes building a proficient change management team and addressing any common challenges encountered during the implementation of change. With this guide, your institution is poised to make informed decisions towards attaining successful change management initiatives.

Short Summary

  • Change management is essential for higher education institutions to stay competitive and successful.
  • A comprehensive plan should include objectives, steps, resources and an evaluation process.
  • Engaging key stakeholders provides necessary support to ensure a smooth transition during future initiatives.

Understanding the Importance of Change Management

One of the primary reasons change management is important is that it helps minimise resistance to change. Your staff may naturally resist changes that disrupt their routines or create uncertainty. A well-executed change management strategy can address these concerns and ensure a smoother transition.

An efficient management system would help them adapt better by focusing on how staff members are prepared for and supported throughout the transition, so that all elements of the organisation work together towards common objectives, leading to success.

Implementing organisational changes can be challenging as there may be issues such as timing or potential interruptions concerning staff members during its implementation. Considering such details is necessary when considering factors involved with setting up a consistent change management procedure that allows organisations to manage their efforts effectively.

Key Elements of an Effective Change Management Strategy

Successful change management hinges on several critical elements forming the foundation for a seamless transition. These key elements encompass well-defined objectives, strong leadership practices, and effective communication channels. Furthermore, engaging employees from the start is essential, fostering a deep commitment to project goals, which can be assessed through key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Well-Defined Objectives: The first pillar of an effective change management strategy is clear objectives. These objectives should be specific, measurable, and aligned with the organisation’s broader mission and vision. They provide a roadmap for change, guiding every step of the journey.
  • Strong Leadership Practices: Effective change requires strong and supportive leadership. Leaders must not only champion the change but also lead by example. Their commitment and enthusiasm trickle down to the rest of the organisation, inspiring confidence in the proposed changes.
  • Open and Effective Communication: Encouraging open, transparent and frequent communication across all key areas is crucial. It ensures that everyone is on the same page and understands the rationale behind the proposed changes. Team members who feel heard and informed are more likely to embrace the changes.
  • Employee Involvement: Involving employees from the outset is a game-changer. When employees have a voice in the change process, they become more committed to its success. Their insights and feedback can be invaluable in shaping the strategy and making it more practical and effective.
  • Performance Metrics (KPIs): Key performance indicators (KPIs) serve as the barometer of change effectiveness. These metrics allow organisations to objectively measure progress and adjust their strategies as needed. They provide insights into whether the change is achieving the desired outcomes.

The DVE Change Management Framework: 

Change is constant in universities, however, its essential elements are overlooked frequently. Such oversight can lead to change initiatives falling short and staff becoming disengaged. This holistic and sustainable change framework is crafted to help university leaders in effectively steering change processes, increasing the likelihood of success.

Preparing for Change

This phase involves establishing the vision for change and identifying the type, scope, and potential impact of the intended transformation. Additionally, it entails the development of a comprehensive change management strategy. 

This phase lays the groundwork for the entire change initiative. Establishing the vision for change and assessing its type, scope, and potential impact provides a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved and the magnitude of the transformation. The development of a comprehensive change management strategy is essential for guiding the change process effectively. It outlines the steps, resources, and communication plans necessary for successful implementation. By undertaking these crucial activities, this phase ensures that the change is well-planned and aligned with organisational goals, reducing the risk of missteps and increasing the chances of achieving a successful outcome.

Planning for Change

Designing the envisioned future state and creating a Change Proposal document for consultation with staff in the next phase of change. This phase involves several key activities. These encompass the development of a high-level roadmap for change and the meticulous documentation of role and process mapping requirements. 

This phase serves as the foundation for the entire change process. During this phase, the blueprint for the desired future state is developed, providing a clear direction and purpose for the change initiative. The Change Proposal document, when shared with staff in the subsequent phase, is a crucial tool for transparency and engagement. It allows staff to understand the proposed changes and provide feedback, fostering a sense of ownership and involvement in the change process. This phase, therefore, sets the stage for effective communication, collaboration, and a smoother transition to the desired future state, increasing the likelihood of successful change implementation.

Consult and Engage with Stakeholders

Staff and key stakeholders should be actively involved in the change process in accordance with the University’s relevant Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. This phase facilitates informed decision-making by involving staff and key stakeholders, promotes transparency and trust, ensures compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, engages with unions to address labour-related concerns, and establishes a feedback loop for the integration of valuable input. This phase is instrumental in fostering collaboration, reducing resistance, and ultimately enhancing the likelihood of a successful change implementation.

who is responsible for change management

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Pre-Implementation of Change

Feedback from staff and stakeholders is diligently reviewed and assessed, and this valuable input informs the refinement of the Change Plan during this phase. This phase is critical in the change management process as it represents the bridge between planning and execution. During this phase, the careful review and assessment of feedback from staff and stakeholders ensure that their voices and concerns are addressed, increasing the chances of a smoother transition during the implementation phase. This critical input informs the fine-tuning of the Change Plan, making it more aligned with the needs and expectations of those affected by the changes. As a result, this phase enhances the overall readiness for successful change implementation and helps mitigate potential resistance or challenges that may arise during the execution of the plan.

Implementation of Change

In this phase, the Change Plan is made available to the affected staff, marking the commencement of the implementation phase. It is important as it represents the important time when the carefully planned change process transitions from theory to practice. The release of the Change Plan to affected staff signifies the beginning of actual change implementation, putting all the prior planning and strategising into motion. This phase is crucial because it directly impacts the staff and their daily operations. It’s the phase where envisioned changes become tangible actions, and as such, it is vital for ensuring a successful transition and achieving the intended outcomes. 

Effective implementation at this stage is essential to minimise disruptions, foster staff buy-in, and ultimately realise the goals of the change initiative.

Embedding Change

This phase involves a continuous cycle of improvement, review, and development of people, processes, and systems to transition smoothly into business as usual (BAU). It is important as it represents the culmination of the entire change management process. During this phase, the focus shifts from the initial implementation to the critical task of stabilising the newly introduced state, ensuring that the changes become ingrained and sustainable. 

The continuous cycle of improvement, review, and development is crucial to fine-tuning processes, optimising systems, and enhancing the capabilities of people to work effectively in the new state. This phase is essential for achieving the long-term success of the change, making it an integral part of everyday business operations. By focusing on embedding the change, organisations can reap the full benefits of their efforts, maintain momentum, and foster a culture of continuous improvement, which is vital for staying competitive and adaptable in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Overcoming Common Change Management Challenges

Change is often difficult because it challenges our comfort zones.

Through the process, organisations may face impediments that may obstruct the progress of its implementation. Common difficulties are often evidenced in reluctance to accept the proposed changes and maintain momentum once it is initiated.

Below are 3 main approaches for addressing these widespread challenges with a view to attaining successful change. All aspects necessary for an effective transformation process must also be considered during management processes.

Staff Resistance to Change

Managing change with its inherent human complexities can pose significant challenges, as individuals often exhibit resistance to adaptation. To mitigate resistance, effective leaders must proactively acknowledge employees’ concerns, offer assistance as needed, and highlight the benefits of the impending transition.

This must be carried out within an environment that encourages open communication and collaboration at every step. Successfully navigating this challenge requires a deep understanding of people’s apprehensions and the ability to articulate the compelling reasons for embracing transformation, ensuring a smooth transition into a new system or structure.

Maintaining Momentum

To effectively execute a transition, it is crucial to maintain consistent momentum throughout the entire change management process. One way to achieve this is by acknowledging and celebrating milestones reached, both at an individual and team level. This not only boosts morale but also guarantees sustained progress toward our objectives.

Continuous tracking against established objectives plus regular updates for all stakeholders involved in the project should also be a priority since monitoring performance allows us to make necessary changes during the change process whenever needed. This will enable maintaining required energy levels which drives forward success with change initiatives.

Evaluating the Success of Your Change Management Process

The success of a change management process hinges on a thorough analysis to ascertain goal achievement and effective problem resolution.

This entails continuous monitoring and analysis of outcomes, pinpointing areas in need of enhancement. By doing so, organisations can refine their approach for maximum efficacy in all subsequent initiatives. This comprehensive evaluation helps you recognize what worked well, what didn’t, and provides valuable insights for future change initiatives.

This collective knowledge serves as the catalyst for ongoing improvements in change management effectiveness.

Tips for Building a Strong Change Management Team

Building a strong change management team is essential for successful change initiatives.

You can create a change management team that is well-prepared to lead your organisation through successful transitions and drive growth through well-executed changes. To achieve this, consider these key tips:

  • Diverse Expertise: Form a team with diverse talents, backgrounds, and skills. This diversity will bring fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to managing change effectively.
  • Collaborative Environment: Foster an atmosphere of collaboration among team members. Encourage open dialogue, constructive criticism, and recognition for each member’s contributions to ensure a productive and supportive team dynamic.
  • Continuous Training: Invest in consistent training opportunities for your change management team. These can include workshops, seminars, webinars, or attending conferences. Equipping team members with the latest knowledge and tools is crucial for their success.
  • Support and Resources: Provide the necessary support and resources to empower your team. Ensure they have access to the tools, information, and guidance needed to maximise their effectiveness in driving organisational change.
  • Efficient Progress: By building a capable change management team, you enable efficient progress in your organisation. These experts understand how to implement transformations across departments, optimising efficiency and delivering impeccable results without compromise.


Organisations must ensure a successful change management process to remain competitive and achieve long-term success. This entails recognising the value of effective change management, establishing an organised procedure for introducing changes, addressing common obstacles during transitions, and forming a dedicated team for managing these modifications. Strong leadership in handling progressions remains crucial for gauging competitiveness and success levels in any organisation.

Common Questions

What are the key components of change:

A comprehensive change management strategy comprises of four essential components: preparing for change, planning for change, managing change, and embedding change.

What are the key elements of an effective change management strategy?

An effective change management strategy involves a well-defined team with diverse skill sets and clear roles, equipped with strong communication abilities and data-driven decision-making. It also includes support from leadership, a collaborative culture, adaptability, empathy, and continuous learning, all aimed at facilitating successful organisational change and addressing employees’ needs and concerns.

How can organisations overcome resistance to change?

To overcome resistance to change effectively, open and proactive communication is essential. Leaders should encourage employees to initiate conversations to ensure their voices are heard. Understanding employees’ concerns and offering support builds trust and demonstrates the benefits of the change. Communicating these positives is crucial for a successful implementation.

Why are stakeholders important in the change management process?

Engaging with stakeholders proactively addresses the needs and desires of those with a vested interest in their operations. This engagement fosters connections, builds trust, instils confidence, and gains buy-in for key organisational initiatives.