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Organisational Change & Development

Stages of Organisational Change

Organisational change is increasingly common in the AOD sector and involves the introduction or alteration of an organisation's structure, technology or people. Key drivers of change include more complex cases (e.g., polydrug use) and a developing evidence base regarding best practice in treatment orientations and goals. For example, changes to work practice and procedures may be driven by:

  • The introduction of new or modified clinical guidelines
  • Awareness of new evidence regarding best practice
  • Workers'/supervisors'/managers' awareness of flaws or difficulties in current work practices and procedures
  • Changes to organisational funding arrangements and deliverables.

Organisational change is best understood as a process that occurs over time, rather than a single one-off event. It can be helpful to think of organisational change as a three-stage process: unfreezing, changing and confirming/supporting.

Stage 1: Unfreezing

Investing time at the start of a change program to prepare and support workers is an essential step to minimise reluctance to change and ensure successful implementation of new work practices.

Key issues to be addressed at the unfreezing stage include:

  • Acknowledging current work practices
  • Supporting workers' readiness for change
  • Providing sufficient organisational resources for change
  • Providing professional development (e.g., education, training) for new work practices
  • Managing uncertainty associated with change.

Stage 2: Changing

Strategies to assist the transition from old to new work practices include: 

  • Conducting trials of change
  • Engaging in ongoing monitoring and evaluation
  • Supporting workers to change their behaviour (support, feedback, rewards, professional development).

Stage 3: Confirming and supporting

Strategies to ensure new behaviours become standard work practice include:

  • Continuing to offer workplace support for the new work practices
  • Continuing with monitoring and evaluation of change - including making required modifications to the new work practices.

Strategies for effective organisational change

Four strategies to achieve successful organisational change are:

  1. Effective communication
  2. Using appropriate change agents
  3. Participation in decision making
  4. Organisational and coworker support.

More Information

For more information about organisational change, please see Chapter 7 (pdf 2.0MB) of the TIPS Kit.