Why Change Management Fails

There are reasons why change management fails and it is time to know why. Change is an integral part of shifting from one point or condition to another, it is a natural process but any worthwhile changes in most cases are initiated by humans for betterment of themselves or organisations. However, there is a damning trend with change initiated in this form. Most of it seems to be set for doom if the past trend is anything to go by. The resulting question is why change management sometimes fails, and can there be any remedy for the causes of such failure or we should abandon changes completely?

Why Change Management Fails

Anything worth laboring for must have a reason, a purpose – this is what keeps you pursuing what you are pursuing even when things seems at their dead end. Most of the change management programs lack this solid backing, why change has to happen, and as my colleagues in law would put it, they don’t have enough evidence to substantiate it. Change must occur, but there must be reasons for such changes to be undertaken and not just at the whims of the decisions of the management.

Lack of clear set objectives and goals that need to be attained by the program is a key factor that triggers failure of change. There is no single way you can award a score without a basis or criteria to do so and in change management. This is the rule rather than the exception. How do you assess your achievements without a prior set plan to evaluate progress? Having set goals on how you plan to unravel change is important, so that you look at the available time and say at this point you must have moved from point A to B, else you could be at the same point and facing a different direction yet sure that you have gone enough miles.

Lack of requisite expertise for change management is probably one of the best explanations as to why change management fails. There is no point in trusting mega projects with persons who do not have demonstrable experience and skills to handle them, and this is one of the gross mistakes committed in change management. Persons who are in charge of any transition must have the required minimum skills and more is an added advantage, they must have handled similar tasks, do understand the task that lies ahead of them along with the accompanying risks, this is the only way to ensure success reins

When it comes to sailing through a process of change, training is a must have tool. Most of the management boards may choose to undertake a change program, using the exactly same personnel and employees without enlightening them on what is being done. It is important to come to terms with the fact that change in an organisation can only be brought about by teamwork and not the efforts of single-handed power-wielding office bearers. Efficient training must always be given to employees, and in cases where there is an inadequacy of qualified personnel then alternatives should be sought to attain all the requisite training that will guarantee a higher rate of success in your quest

Improper planning has been cited more than once as a key attribute to why change management fails and it’s only good that I emphasize it once more. Change Management Taxes heavily on the available resources and a plan is the only blue print to assess whether you are good enough to go.

In most cases change management fails because the organisation has been stranded, got in a state of limbo, as the capacity and available resources cannot consummate the required levels to effectively achieve the results. So then what is the remedy? This lies with having professional planners to come up with a detailed program of what needs to be done, what will be required and the available capacity. To sum it up, a plan and objectives are bosom friends. One is used to check the other, so no plan means no concrete objectives.

A key percept used in archaic politics was termed the first principle of the political alphabet, which stated that leaders make the decisions and subjects effect them, never try this in change management. A key reason why change management fails is due to lack of demonstrable commitment on the part of the leadership, talking tough and much but giving too little for their much rambling. This earns the effective results of attracting resistance from the side of the colleagues who will feel that there is no urgent and pressing need for such changes to occur and consequently develop highly efficient resistance skills to any future pleas for change. Leaders must always show a commitment and dedication to effect the desired change, then go the next step of demonstrating that desire by getting down and doing their part.

Lack of proper communication is one of those issues that will tip you off balance in attempting change management. In most cases the management at higher levels may initiate a change program, but the information, the plans, reasons, objectives and all other relevant resources that need to be passed down to every team player remains clogged in the upper circles of the firm. Well, what are the results of such a scheme? The management and other participants who should work together with the relevant shareholders in achieving a common goal are reading from different scripts with each on a different page altogether. This creates unnecessary stand offs, those that course frictions and are against progress and the spirit of change, so never should you start a deal with an uninformed colleague, always communicate, clearly and timely.

Another key reason why change initiatives fail is the lack of pilot programs to have a fore view on what is expected. Sailing in untested waters is not a good thing to do and change must always follow on what has been tested and proved to be fruitful. Before any given strategy is put into place a pilot program should always be implemented. This will help to check the conditions and act as a reconnaissance tour so you have a rough idea of where you are heading to, what to expect and the possible risks that you face so as to have robust fall back mechanisms on the ready should uncertainties unravel.

Understanding why change management fails is imperative to overcoming the challenges and arriving at a place where successful change happens.


Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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