Restructures, Process Improvements, Acquisitions, Mergers, Divestments, System Implementations, Product and Service Launches, Projects
Change is a constant in business today – in fact, it’s the only thing that’s guaranteed! Yet, if it’s so common, why do so many organizations get it so spectacularly wrong every day?
With 10 years of accumulated ‘scars’ gained from being on the the receiving end of countless change initiatives in front line and executive roles, I became a senior change management consultant for a large IT consulting firm. The scars converted into wisdom as my job was to advise others on how to make change happen successfully.
Over the next seven years, I witnessed many organisations inadvertently making the same mistakes as they implemented change and common themes started to emerge. Regardless of the size of the organisation or the industry, change seems to be messy, complex and fraught with difficulty.
Change management mistakes disengage those most impacted by the change and guarantee the failure of almost any initiative.
But it doesn’t have to be like that! Now, as an experienced business coach, my mission is to make change as easy as possible.
So… here are the most often repeated mistakes I encounter and how to avoid them:
Many consulting firms sell impressive Change Management solutions heavy on theory, rhetoric, process and price. Promising to come in and implement the change, they follow a ‘one size fits all’ formulaic project management approach they’ve used with many big name clients in the past.
Breathing a sigh of relief that this firm has the skills and experience make the change happen quickly and effectively (albeit expensively!), you sit back and let them loose on your organization.
Benevolent senior partners oversee intense and eager young graduate consultants who have rarely experienced wide scale change, first hand. The ‘suits’ come in and book countless meetings and workshops with all the ‘stakeholders’ who still have ‘day jobs’ and other non-change related commitments to meet. This results in impressive, often lengthy, documents which are barely read beyond their Executive Summaries.
Engaged on a fixed term contract, the consulting firm’s goal is to do the change as quickly and effectively as possible, get paid and leave you to it.
There are a number of pitfalls with this approach so if you’re going down this path, take a moment to ask how well they:
- Demonstrate genuine understanding of the unique context within which your change is happening
- Demonstrate deep understanding of your business, (beyond reciting your company’s homepage)
- Take time to engage your people, respect and truly understand how they will be impacted by the change
- Apply their ‘Change Management Model’ and theory to your specific change and organisation’s culture
Chances are that if you’ve made this mistake, you know what it’s like to be left with the ‘mess’, long after the consulting firm has moved on to their next gig.
At best – your staff will flounder, disillusioned and disengaged with no ownership for the change or accountability for realising the intended benefits.
At worst – motivation, absenteeism and retention will have dire consequences as your best people move on… burnt out but wiser for the experience.
#2: ABDICATING RESPONSIBILITY – CHANGE DONE FOR YOU
This mistake happens when (under the veil of ‘leadership’), you naively hand over responsibility for the way the change happens. Giving the responsibility and power to an external consulting firm is a major blunder that creates questionable results far removed from your original vision and goals for the change.
Often driven by the ‘I don’t have time/am too busy’ belief, many executives and leaders push on with other seemingly more important priorities and are blissfully unaware of how the change initiative is progressing – until things start to go wrong.
Feedback drifts through via the grapevine that the change is failing to gain traction and disrupting ‘business as usual’. The project is burning $$$ and people and missing its milestones.
You know when the change has been ‘done FOR you’ when soon after the consultants depart, you:
1. Notice that nothing has changed – people are still doing what they’ve always done, they way they’ve always done it. In fact, there are no tangible, measurable benefits at all and your people are struggling to manage the resulting disruption.
2. Realise you actually don’t know how the change has impacted your entire organisation. What was the outcome and where has it left your business?
3. Come to a blinding realisation that there is no way to sustain the change because your people have neither the ownership or skills to create the new ‘norm’ .
#3: UNDERESTIMATE YOUR PEOPLE’S ABILITY TO MAKE CHANGE ‘FLY OR DIE’
Regardless of the reason for the change, it will be your people who determine whether it successfully achieves its desired outcome. You can design the most technically advanced system, streamlined process or flexible organizational structure but if your people don’t ‘buy’ it, the change will fail.
If they don’t understand it (what, why, when and how) or see how it will make things better, they lose motivation and faith in their ability to make it happen. When they simply don’t get it, you’ll see a wide range of boycotting and sabotaging behvaiours, all of which lead to failure if left unaddressed.
But… your people have been changing since before they were born and are way better at change than they or you may realise!
Often perceived as the most difficult part of any change initiative, effectively engaging your people is the most vital ingredient for its success.
What’s more, it actually isn’t that hard!
CHANGE MANAGEMENT COACHING TIPS
Your people have invaluable collective knowledge, expertise and skills, which needs to be harnessed to make your change initiative succeed.
1. Create a clear vision of what needs to be achieved that everyone understands
2. Delegate responsibility with clear, agreed and aligned accountabilities – everyone understands who’s doing what, why, how and when
3. Remove roadblocks – create a solution focused culture and mindset
4. Give YOUR people change management skills, tools, techniques and support – convert resistance into resilience
5. Get out of the way – guide the change and help your people sustain it.
With a vested interest in the success of the business, motivated and engaged internal change practitioners (key influencers) are the best people to make the change ‘fly’.
Regardless of the change you’re embarking on, there are many simple ways to ensure its success.
P2R Change Management Coaching will help build your internal change management capability. The benefits will last long after this change objective has been achieved as your people now know how to make future change successful.
Discover how to build YOUR team’s ‘change muscles’.