Change management has become a buzz term in many business circles, but it’s rarely executed effectively. There are more ‘experts’ than ever before, but in such a subjective field it’s difficult to define success.
So why is it that so many organizations fail to change? Change initiatives are difficult to plan, and even more difficult to implement.
Companies can invest significant resources and fail to achieve positive results, which is demoralizing for everyone involved.
We live in a volatile and unpredictable business world, meaning our management of change must be flexible and adaptive.
Devising a rigid strategy without considering real-time failures, is a recipe for disaster. Ironically, our initiatives must be as flexible as our approach to change.
With time, both our attitudes to change and the processes themselves will become part of company culture, providing our approach has been successful.
Unfortunately, more often than not this isn’t the case. Leaders are usually too late to adopt change as part of their model, only doing so when their hand is forced.
Transformations can take years, and must be introduced slowly. It’s natural to make mistakes along the way, but these can actually define the character of your organization.
If you understand the type of mistakes that can occur, you can safeguard against them, or potentially even prevent them happening altogether.
Here are some top reasons why most change management strategies fail:
Management of Change: Lack of Strategy
Implementing an effective change strategy is half the battle. Organizations commonly dive in and expect changes to occur overnight, but this highlights a lack of patience.
Staff usually adapt to change in phases, at an appropriate pace.
The leadership team needs to invest significant time into developing a plan of action, which ensures staff are well-equipped for a positive transition.
Your team needs to be well-prepared, to embrace and implement processes on a pre-planned timeline.
Your strategy must be readily adaptable for transformation, learning from the mistakes of others while planning solid contingencies for a competitive edge that ensures longevity.
Failure to Realize the Need for Change
Organizational management of change fails when leaders fail to realize its importance. It’s easy to become so wrapped up with your current procedures, and fail to realize the digital world is leaving you behind.
An effective change leader can foresee and prepare for change well before it occurs.
You might need to change a business model, product, or even embrace a new industry opportunity to take your company to the next level.
By evaluating internal and external circumstances, you can successfully identify areas that need attention, preferencing a continuous improvement philosophy where you constantly acknowledge the need for change.
Lack of Executive Sponsorship
Once your strategy has been devised, it must be embraced from the top down. Too many organizations pass the plan onto HR and hope for the best, but this doesn’t work.
The leadership team needs to evangelize change, and if anything oversell its importance. If leaders are constantly promoting the benefits of change, and fully support the initiatives, other staff will follow.
Senior leaders must stay involved with change, and never fail to lose interest. If teams get the impression leaders don’t care, this can derail the plan of action.
Deprioritizing the management of change means there’ll be less resources available to ensure change sticks, which can negatively influence the attitudes of staff.
A Failed Culture
Culture should be at the foundation of change. The leadership team must identify core parts of the culture, while tying them into change initiatives.
If your organizational cultureorganizational culture doesn’t change, resistance will lead to change falling flat on its face. It’s difficult to break a culture that’s existed for some time, but a restructuring effort might be necessary for successful change to take place.
Forcing change on an incompatible culture will be a waste of time and resources, not necessarily due to an incorrect approach to change, but a failed culture.
Never assume your culture will simply adjust to change, otherwise there could be big problems ahead.
Lack of Alignment
It’s all well and good planning a change strategy, but if staff aren’t on board, what use it is? This stresses the importance of involving staff early and often.
During the planning phase, leaders should collect data from their front line soldiers, utilizing all the data they have at their disposal.
When staff feel left out, they’re less likely to resent your change strategies, with a perspective that doesn’t align with change objectives.
Incorporating staff input gives leader’s situational awareness, addressing different questions regarding the best approach.
When your team is involved from the beginning, they gain a sense of ownership, which is crucial for organizational buy-in.
Once you’ve collected the information you need, you can ask whether everyone is aligned with the management of change, and whether your outcomes align with the people involved.
Though everyone will have a different opinion, it’s crucial you achieve an overall alignment for consistency.
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.