Organizational change gives companies an edge over competition. Differentiating from the rest is critical for success, but change can be disruptive when not executed properly.
With a strategy that accounts for obstacles, you can implement measures to safeguard against negative outcomes. Transformative change management steps focus on human behavior, a vital consideration to ensure change survives the long haul.
Disengagement is a leading obstacle of change, but making managers of all levels interested in change initiatives will increase the likelihood you get full investment from staff.
When managers buy into change from a strategic perspective, staff will follow. Though change can cause chaos, if there’s a method to the madness you’ll be much better off.
Participation and cooperation in change should be obtained, and by learning from others we can understand what doesn’t work when implementing change management steps.
Here are some common obstacles to avoid:
Inadequate Resourcing and Buy-In
A great foundation for your strategy is appreciating the true nature of change management.
Insufficient understanding can cause problems with resource allocation. If you don’t invest in the resources necessary for your change management steps to work, you’re fighting a losing battle from the beginning.
The budget for change management is often the first to be cut during tight financial times, especially when competing projects take preference.
When change is implemented successfully, there is a strong correlation between effective resourcing and strategy. With proper resourcing, you’ll increase the likelihood of meeting project objectives.
Change management should be resourced according to the scale of change, not the scope. This involves avoiding the cost of not changing to realize the benefits of resource allocation in your change management steps.
Lack of Executive Support
Ask participants to support change is the biggest struggle, and a common response is a lack of support from high-ranking staff. This can strangle change, because how can a change occur if it doesn’t have support from the top down?
This is a strong organizational trend, which ultimately indicates insufficient leadership. It’s important for executives to set an example, and their enthusiasm for change will filter through the organization.
Effective sponsorship from executives can mobilize organizational change, but the opposite can dramatically inhibit progress.
Employees are likely to view change initiatives as unimportant without on-board executives.
We naturally reject change, usually because it threatens the status quo. If the reasons for change aren’t clearly communicated with staff, they’re less likely to align with company goals.
This creates uncertainty and confusion, making staff less inclined to embrace change. Resistance is commonplace in all departments, where people either don’t understand the reason for change, or don’t understand the change itself.
Any successful change management initiative is implemented with a clear dialogue, so staff understand company objectives. They’ll consequently feel appreciated, and be motivated to use a positive outlook on route to change.
Provide the why of the change upfront, providing business reasons and the ‘what’s in it for me?’ for each employee.
Intensive change initiatives can naturally fatigue employees, who are often asked to do too much. Setting unrealistic targets can cause dysfunction, so aim for small wins to keep staff on track.
Avoid a saturation of change, because a volume of projects can cripple the ability to prioritize. Rather than staying on track, it’s easy for change managers to give up if they’ve taken on too much. Impacted groups can have less time to focus on a change effort, with no direction on what to prioritize first.
Employees have a limit on the number of changes they can process at once, so setting realistic expectations is critical when implementing change management steps.
If you can’t avoid change saturation, an awareness of it creates reassurance, so change managers know what to prioritize during their daily functions.
What Can I Do Differently?
Make Managers the Heros
When management are the change champions, you’ll ensure they fully buy into your strategy.
Management are best positioned to influence staff, so they deserve center stage. Managers are highly capable, with knowledge of what works on the frontline, so their expertise should be harnessed for organizational benefit.
Show Staff the Potential of Change
When staff realize what can be achieved, they’ll feel compelled to embrace change. Staff must be informed of their role in the post change scenario, and what they need to do to get there.
This will incentivize them to stay on track, because they’ll be centered in the company’s future vision.
Paint the Alternatives
This could be considered shock value, but honesty is the best policy. Inform staff of the negative consequences of not accepting change, and their approach to change will soon convert.
Painting harsh alternative scenarios will help employees realize the flip side to resistance, persuading them to accept the reality and importance of your change management steps.
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.