Is it possible to make your organization change?
It’s more possible than you might think.
No, you shouldn’t try to force change.
Change management professionals know that trying to force change will have bad consequences.
Employees become more:
And, as a result, change initiatives are less likely to meet their objectives.
Poorly managed change programs often inadvertently cause such negative impacts.
Well-managed change initiatives, on the other hand, stand a much better chance of achieving or exceeding their desired objectives.
Let’s find out how to avoid pitfalls and “make” your organization change.
How to “Make” Your Organization Change … the Right Way
Organizations change for a variety of reasons – to survive, to compete, to cut costs, among others.
The most successful programs are formal and sophisticated. They are well-structured, agile, and modern.
Benefits of such sophisticated programs include:
- Lower costs and greater returns
- Greater employee morale and productivity
- More support from executives and employees
- Shorter transition periods and learning curves
- Less resistance and less waste
Poorly structured programs, however, can be costly, inefficient, and some can fail completely.
Why Change Initiatives Don’t Meet Their Objectives
Some in the change management community speak in black-and-white terms regarding change initiatives.
That is, programs either “fail” or “succeed.”
The truth however, is not so binary. Most programs achieve a percentage of their final objectives, some lower and some higher.
A study by Google showed that many programs fall short of their expected benefits in some areas.
In others, they exceeded them.
A few reasons could explain such mixed results:
- Unrealistic expectations. Gauging the results of a change program can be extremely difficult. There are so many variables involved, it is not always easy to project its results accurately.
- Poor communication. Communication is perhaps the key trait desired in most change managers. And it has the greatest impact on critical factors such as employee support, executive support, and resistance.
- Poorly structured training. Employee training and development have a direct impact on learning speed. A program’s time to ROI – particularly during digital adoption initiatives – can be directly connected to training.
- Lack of executive support. Executive support was named a top contributor to program success in the Google study, mentioned above. Without executive support, change programs are much less likely to succeed.
These are just a few of the reasons that change programs succeed.
But these reasons all relate to the structure of the program itself…
Aside from the program’s structure, there are external obstacles to face.
More Obstacles that Stand Between You and Change
Whether or not you have a well-structured program, you will still need to deal with barriers such as:
- Executive Resistance
- Employee Resistance
- Budget Constraints
- Technology Constraints
Not all of these obstacles are controllable, of course.
Technology constraints and budget constraints may be impossible to affect.
However, a solid communication strategy can help you overcome many of the human-centered problems listed here.
It is the most controllable element in any change initiative. And it has the greatest impact on results.
Communication is the all-important change management principle that can make or break your program.
Don’t Overcome Obstacles – Bypass Them with a Communication Strategy
Here are a few tips for improving your communication strategy:
Don’t bore employees at meetings, build enthusiasm by engaging them. Get your employees to do the work for you. Build enthusiasm through engaging change management exercises, gamification, reward systems, and other creative systems.
Remove fear by selling benefits and painting a positive picture. Employees resist because they are afraid of change, the unknown, and unfamiliar territory. Paint a positive vision of the future by showing them how the change will help them in their career, at work, and so forth.
Prevent feelings of alienation by inviting participation. Besiegement is another symptom of poor communication. Avoid alienating employees by inviting participation early on, really listening to their input, and creating discussions instead of top-down directives.
Invest in training to shrink learning curves. Train before, during, and after your program. Also, online learning and training software, such as digital adoption platforms, can reduce onboarding time. This, in turn, reduces employee frustration and boosts productivity.
Don’t dictate change, lead it from the ground. A hands-on approach gets better results. Executives, managers, and change champions should get involved, embody change, and put their money where their mouth is. Do this and employees will follow suit.
These are just a few tips that highlight ways to improve your communication strategy.
There are certainly others.
To ensure success, you should do whatever you can to make your communications strategy as robust as possible.
Developing a solid communication strategy is one of the key ingredients to a well-structured change initiative.
It cannot solve all of your problems, of course.
However, effective communication can reduce resistance, boost support, and help you get better results across the board.
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.