We’ve said this before, change is hard and resistance to change is futile. If you do a quick online search you will find scores of stories describing epic change fails. So how do we manage change and implement it effectively? By not repeating some of the most common mistakes organizations make while attempting to implement change, and there are many of them. For now, we wanted to focus on the five most common mistakes and quick tips on how to best avoid them:
Not giving yourself enough time: Implementing change takes time, planning, and thoughtfulness. It also means guiding teams along the proposed change before the change is made, which takes, you guessed it!, time! So be sure to plan ahead and start early – the more time people have to acclimate to the changes, the better the result will be. Giving yourself time to communicate and train your team on the change could be the most important thing you do!
Poor communication: Why the change? How will it be managed? Will I be trained? Will my opinion matter? These and other important questions need to be answered and communicated on a regular basis with the entire team, not only a select few who are ‘in the know’. Poor communication leads to mistrust and resistance which could spell doom for your change. Consult your team, let their voices be heard, and the path for change will pave itself.
Not showing that you care: Change should not be dictated, it needs to come from a place of empathy and understanding. Showing your team that you understand their challenges and concerns, and giving them time, guidance, and support to work through the changes will greatly enhance the possibility of a successful change being implemented. Resisting change might be futile but embracing change can be a game changer for your change efforts and for team cohesion and morale.
Leadership malaise: Lack of executive sponsorship is one of the key reasons why change fails in organizations. Organizational leadership needs to be vocal champions of the change throughout the process, lending their clear support and working towards enhancing communication with all team members. Leading by example is one concrete way leaders can positively impact an upcoming change.
Having unrealistic expectations: People react to major changes in phases and often display resistance. This is especially true when people perceive a loss because of the change. Expecting immediate acceptance of a change is not realistic. Instead, support your team by displaying patience and encouragement, listening to their concerns, while also continuing to communicate the benefits they can expect to see once changes are implemented.
I’m certain you’ve noticed some key themes in these pitfalls: communication, planning, and leadership. These are the hallmarks of any great workplace, whether during change or in everyday work, and mastering these elements will see your organization positively impacted.
Your Engaged HR Assignment: Is your organization going through change? Take a look at your plan and check that it addresses these five key change pitfalls. And if you feel you could use some help, consider taking our Managing Change in the Workplace workshop, or just reach out. We are here to help.
Looking to learn more about other HR topics? Check out our Art of HR series!