The Roles of Managers in Organizational Change (Carnall)

Change Phases
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Devayani Vyavaharkar
Student (University), Germany

The Roles of Managers in Organizational Change (Carnall)

🔥NEW Effective change management goes beyond the mere implementation of change and involves leading, managing, directing the employees successfully through organizational change. Organizations may have a clear vision and clarity for executing major changes; however, obstacles are bound to arise. Change indeed involves risk and courage to go for it. Although change might be beneficial for the organization, not all employees embrace it gracefully.

Carnall's Roles of Managers in Organizational Change

That's why Carnell states that effective management of change depends on 3 management skills:
  1. Managers should be able to manage transitions effectively by helping people to learn and by creating a risk-taking atmosphere.
  2. Furthermore, a manager should deal with organizational cultures by establishing a more adaptable culture, for example through more local autonomy.
  3. Finally, a manager should also be able to handle organizational politics effectively through an understanding and recognition of different agendas.
Only managers with these three mentioned skills will be able to create an atmosphere where risk-taking, creativity and better performance can be implemented (Carnall, 2007).

Carnall's Coping Style Model of Change

There are various reasons why employees are reluctant to change. These include close-mindedness, fear of the unknown or the fear of not being able to adapt to the new changes. Sometimes, employees might reflect an unwillingness to learn and assume that the new changes may not result in improvements. According to Carnall (2008), coping with changes takes place gradually. Quite similar to the Change Curve model by Kübler-Ross, Carnall says employees typically go through five stages during major organizational changes.

  • Stage 1 Denial: It represents the first stage in which employees deny that any changes occur in the organization. They attempt to convince themselves that the old ways of working are better and try giving reasons as to why the new changes will never be successful.
  • Stage 2 Defense: When employees start believing that changes will occur in the organization, they take a defensive stance by justifying their previous positions and way of doing things. This happens because they assume that the changes are taking place mainly because their old ways of working were faulty and error-prone in someway. It is important to understand that these assumptions held by the employees are mostly irrational and not always true compared to reality.
  • Stage 3 Discarding: At this point, employees begin to realize that change is inevitable. They also understand that along with the organizational changes, employees need to change as well. Hence, they find it better to discard their old ways and accept change as the new normal.
  • Stage 4 Adaptation: A tremendous amount of energy gets devoted during this stage. Employees spent more time trying to learn about changes in the systems, testing them and understanding new functions. This stage involves learning through adjustments and testing using trial and error. Thus, it often causes frustration and rising anger among the employees.
  • Stage 5 Internalization: Finally, in this stage, employees become amalgamated in the new culture and become comfortable with the new changes, systems and the new working environment.
The above-described model helps us realize the need to consider each employee for effective change management. Different employees might be at different stages. Also, not every employee will accept change gracefully. There will always be those who will play the role of change resisters. Hence, there is a need for managers and leaders to act as a steering wheel for driving change effectively within the organization.

⇨ Do you agree these are the 3 main management skills needed in successfully executing organizational change?

Carnall, C.A. and By, R.T. (2014), Managing Change in Organizations. Pearson Education.
Culcrattanak. (2017, July 1). Blog 4: Managing change. Kawin's Blogs.
Stark, P.B. (2014, December 10). Why Employees Resist Change. Peter Barron Stark Companies.


Aniket Deolikar
Consultant, India

Change Curve Model

The Change curve by Kübler-Ross is such an effective concept that wherever change comes we will alwa... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

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Tilak Dissanayake
Consultant, Sri Lanka

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I believe Devayani has correctly identified the requirements for managers leading change due to the ... Sign up

Francis Kahihu
Strategy Consultant, Kenya

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I agree with the proposed three key skills to introducing and sustaining change. In addition to the ... Sign up

Analyst, Austria

Creating a Risk-taking Atmosphere Needs More Clarification

The phrase "creating a risk-taking atmosphere" in point I. needs careful understanding. Before creat... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Managers Leading Change Should Involve People

Of course it may be argued that none of this coping requirement is true, per se. People like change... Sign up

PeterMaria van Herpen

If Change is not Perceived as Necessary...

There is the other model of change, saying 'Unfreeze, Change, Freeze". Regardless of which model may... Sign up

Professor, Ukraine

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Teacher, Kenya

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In a situation where things change frequently in small steps, employees should be equipped to initia... Sign up

PeterMaria van Herpen

Role of Change Manager in Small Changes

Hi @Gera, interesting comment, but I disagree to a certain degree. Even small changes require change... Sign up


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