All change is not equal: 4 types of change and how to lead them


Change can happen in a variety of ways. Within business the 4 common types of change are; IT system changes, M&As, restructures and changes in ownership. A typical flaw of people managing change is that they treat every change as equal when in fact the solution needs to match the type of change occurring.

Of course, there are similarities across different types of changes, but it’s noticing the different requirements of each type of change that will really make the difference.

Here are 4 different changes and our top tips for leading each one

IT system change

To make this type of change successful, don’t underestimate the amount of behaviour change required. Upskill people on the basics and have somewhere for people to give feedback and get support.

A common derailer of these changes is if leaders forget to communicate the vision for digital transformation. This communication is important to make sure people understand the change, care about it and have the skills needed   

Change of ownership

People can be wary of a change in ownership, it’s important for leaders to be as transparent as possible so people don’t assume there’s a hidden agenda - without this it can put people off and make them recoil from the change. Be honest with people and let them know what’s going on – call out about the stuff you’re not sure about or can’t disclose because of legal reasons so people feel informed and engaged.


Fairness should be your priority for this type of change. People know that jobs will be reviewed and possibly even cut, but you need to do it fairly by making sure talent is assessed and selected in a systematic and transparent way. It can be an emotional ride with both highs and lows so you need to communicate continuously to get people engaged and in-the-know before people fill the void with rumours’. It’s also important to upskill managers so they can have open conversations about the change and support people through the transition.


The influence of culture is a priority when managing M&As. It’s important that you really know the articulated, lived and deep culture and identify key cultural icons to champion the change. Emotions are heightened during mergers and the common stress and uncertainty leads to worst-case-scenario thinking and distracts employees from their day-to-day role. To tackle this ‘merger syndrome’ you should offer realistic previews of what the organisation will be like for people before this negative thinking starts.


Different types of change have defining characteristics which need to be considered for it to run smoothly and successfully. Be aware of the specific enablers and pitfalls that different types of change bring and prioritise ‘must do’, ‘should do’ and ‘could do’ actions accordingly.

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