Change is constantly occurring all around us; in all aspects of our lives. This is just the way of the world. We need to be able to adapt and adjust to move forward. The issue though is that people and more importantly organizations have a hard time dealing with change. 70% of change initiatives fail according to John Kotter. This stat is alarming when you consider that change is constantly occurring.
Let’s take a quick look at the 3 most common changes organizations face:
1.) Enterprise transformations, such as a merger or acquisition, turnaround or restructurings;
2.) Function transformations which include revamping specific business functions, such as human resources or finance; and,
3.) Sourcing transformations, or putting in place shared services or outsourcing.
Now let’s take a look at the major mistakes that leaders make when they are implementing change in their organization:
They fail to include their employees in the planning process of the change initiative. This causes the employees to feel voiceless and/or powerless which causes their brains to move into overdrive. This will cause their mindset to change to one of protect and defend what they know. This will be followed by feelings of shock and potentially anger. Ultimately, this will lead to resistance and failure of the change initiative.
Not Bridging the Gap
Failure to take into account the perspective of their employees is a major flaw because all change is personal. Individuals’ brains become flooded withemotions of fear due to the change, and this will cause them to react in survival like way. This can be a very stressful time for everyone so by having a leader who takes the time to see their concerns from their perspective (or their side of the bridge) is crucial. By showing that you authentically care and want to assist them through the change will help put everyone at ease. Also they will better understand the change and how it will impact them, thus, leading to higher buy-in.
Don’t be afraid to hold people accountable. You still have a job to get done. The two steps above help you get the buy-in needed to help make the change work smoothly. However, there are cases where some employees simply won’t buy-in. This is where you need to be able to have the edge required to have those difficult conversations and hold people accountable. One of the worst traps you can fall into as a manager is wanting everyone to like you. Having this as one of your primary goals will actually in the end make more people angry at you because you lack direction and edge.
Change is never an easy task so you really need to take into account the impact it has on a person and the organization. However, by not missing the opportunities to solicit input from your employees, empathize from their perspective and finally not being afraid to hold people accountable you will see a higher buy-in. This will ultimately lead to the successful implementation of your organization’s change initiative.
If you would like a more in-depth look at how to better implement a change initiative at your organization please view our white paper: All Change is Personal – Why most change efforts fail and what to do about it.