WHY CHANGE EFFORTS FAIL
Are you making these common mistakes?
By Dori Meinert
Although frequent culture shifts and restructurings have become the norm at most organizations, many leaders still haven’t gotten change initiatives
right, according to numerous studies.
Hopefully, that will change, as the amount and pace of
such eforts won’t be letting up anytime soon, according
to the results of a global survey scheduled to be released
later this month by Prosci, which provides change
management training. About 86 percent of 1,778 change
leaders surveyed expect the number of change initiatives
in their organizations to increase over the next two years.
About 55 percent anticipate that the number of those
transformations will increase signifcantly.
Rapid and repeated changes are already overwhelming
many employees, warns Susie Patterson, director of research and development at Prosci, based in Fort Collins,
Colo. Some 73 percent of those surveyed said their organizations are near, at or past the point of “change saturation,” when they can’t absorb any more, says Patterson,
whose organization has been doing bi-annual benchmark
studies on change management since 1998. That’s up
from 59 percent a decade ago.
When leaders take a more studied, deliberate approach, their eforts are more likely to achieve their goals,
bringing greater benefts to their companies and higher
employee engagement, Patterson says.
Here are some tips for helping your strategies succeed:
Don’t announce the project and then disappear.
“The No. 1 mistake that sponsors make is to not stay
active and visible throughout the life of the project,” Pat-
terson says. “They will kick of the project and then move
on to something else.”
Research shows that having a strong and efective
sponsor can make or break any program. In fact, it’s the
top contributor to change initiatives’ success, according
to Prosci research over two decades.
“Senior leaders can’t abdicate that responsibility or
delegate it down, even though it’s very tempting because
they don’t have a lot of time,” she says.
Address the emotional impact of the proposed
changes. Executives tend to talk about these eforts using
cold, hard facts and fgures. What’s the impact on the
bottom line? How much revenue growth can the organization expect?
But those things mean little to employees tasked with
implementing the changes. “Too often [leaders are] communicating internally the way they would to investors
… and that just doesn’t work,” says Micah Alpern, senior
principal in the leadership, change and organization
practice at A. T. Kearney in Chicago.
Discuss the emotional components as well. Will the adjustments being put forward make employees’ jobs easier?
Will workers be able to learn new things?
“You have to think about what’s important to employ-