Change Management

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change."

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882), British biologist
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This Business English lesson plan on change management has been designed for business professionals or other adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

The modern world is constantly changing, and in order to survive, all organisations must adapt to these changes. But how this change is managed is crucial to the success of the business. Nobody really likes change, especially not at work. Companies often encounter resistance to change as it is often perceived with suspicion by staff fearful of losing their jobs. In this Business English lesson plan on organisational change, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their experiences of change in the workplace, how organisational change should be managed, and what changes might companies have to make in the future.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

INC | 5 Tips for Effectively Managing Change

The article gives a number of pieces of advice on how to manage organisational change, including setting the expectation that change is necessary and inevitable, considering the change from the point of view of the staff, and being honest. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was written? Can they think of any ways they might add to the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below at home. In the class, the students will answer a number of conversation questions directly or indirectly related to the content of the video.

The video for this class is a TED Talk by Jim Hemerling called “5 ways to lead in an era of constant change” which suggests that companies are now in a situation of constant change.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means, if they agree with it and how it could relate to business. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including what changes the students have experienced, the best ways for companies to communicate organisational change, and what changes the students would make to their companies.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with change management such as layoffs, redundancies and cut costs. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the conversation questions. Before the conversation, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about workplace change. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as common changes that happen in the workplace, technological changes, and how the global coronavirus pandemic has resulted in organisational change.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write an email recommending changes to the way people work in their company. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise business-style writing as well as improving their grammar with the feedback from their teacher.

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