Change has become a permanent part of the business landscape and there’s often no escaping it.
Perhaps you’ve already tried and failed to lead change in your organization – statistics show that a whopping 75 per cent of change management projects fail. Or perhaps you’re in the middle of change, and it feels like an uphill battle with no end in sight.
Setting out a clear agenda for change, including a strategy that can be followed, communicating clearly with employees and leading your people through the change are essential ingredients for success. You can’t simply expect to announce change and then have your people unquestioningly go along for the ride.
There are several key mistakes that leaders make when undergoing a change management process. Are you making any of these?
1. Not understanding employee resistance
People don’t like to move out of their comfort zones. When change is thrust upon us, we are naturally resistant to it. While some people are more adaptable than others, many others regard change with apathy while others are hostile to it and have to be dragged kicking and screaming (metaphorically of course!).
When communicating your plans for change, you should factor in these common human reactions and address them as part of the change process.
2. Starting to change too late
If you’ve suddenly realized that you need to change because of a looming deadline or crisis and you didn’t give your company adequate time to prepare, you’ve effectively swapped one potential disaster with anther.
Not leaving enough time to plan means that the changes you make may not be sustainable, or palatable to employees. Your new systems may not work, costing your in productivity and profits, and your formerly happy staff might look to move on to greener pastures.
3. Not being realistic about what can be achieved
The saying goes that Rome wasn’t built in a day. You may have a vision for the direction you want to take your company in and can picture it clearly in your mind – but the reality might fall way short when you try to steer your people in that direction.
When you need to change, don’t try to overdo it: do what is within the realms of your organization’s budget and capabilities. You may have several stops in the journey until you reach the destination.
4. All talk and no action
Perhaps you’ve told your employees that things need to change, but you haven’t set out a clear process for how that will occur – you just expect them to make changes to take the organization in a new direction.
Other times businesses may make big announcements and then fail to follow through on the initiatives.
These situations cause employees to become cynical and unenthusiastic about change, because they feel like they’ve heard it all before and nothing actually happened.