Why your Enterprise Change Management is Failing - and How to Fix It

    Oct 19, 2016 | Posted by Michael Campbell

    Successful enterprise change management is only possible when thousands of employees are persuaded to think differently about their jobs. A recent survey found that only 54% of major change initiatives are successful, with the costs of failure growing both financially and how it adversely affects employee morale. When change fails it is easy to become cynical and cynical thinkers are those most likely to resist change: decreasing employee engagement and productivity.

    Consider these 5 points to prevent failure in your program of change management and reengage with cynical thinkers:

    1. Asking for too much

    “Change fatigue” is a general sense of apathy or passive resignation to organisational change. When a program of change is rolled out with little planning or is rushed along to meet management pressures with little consideration for employee perspective, failure is often inevitable which leads to the introduction of a new change program. Beginning the downward spiral of “change fatigue”.

    Consider: Your employee’s reaction to change is critical to change management success. Working a change initiative into the existing company culture is key to delivering change in a way which does not overwhelm employees or seem forced or contrived. Creating a program of change which can be sustained to drive success.

    2. Managers that lack the appropriate skills

    Change is a people led process and when confusion and doubt begins to grow within the workforce they look to management for direction, support and enthusiasm. When the leaders of change have not wholly bought into the program this apathy can seep to the rest of the work force.  Management uncertainty can undermine change and slow its momentum.

    Consider: Transparency throughout the change program is key with each management level invested in driving successful change and knowledgeable in the reasons behind the change. Leaders of change should be selected for their ability to connect with the wider workforce, deliver support and cultivate enthusiasm while also leading by example.

    3. Unequal levels of enthusiasm throughout management levels

    Alternatively, a lot of effort can be expended in order to engage employees in the process of change but senior leaders are not always afforded the same level of consideration. If the top level management suits cannot back the change with strong support it is likely that the senior leaders will be sending out mixed signals.

    Consider: A program of change management should be unified organisation wide with a developed strategy of change management worked throughout the organisation. This should be agreed by all and be communicated to all levels of management with equal levels of buy in.

    4. Not factoring in the key influencers

    Management are charged with leading the program and cultivating adoption throughout the workforce. But there are cornerstone employees in every organisation whose opinions and actions carry more weight than their job titles would suggest such as: long-term serving receptionist or well respected project manager. Overlooking these employees and their position within the organisation can cause resentment, and erode trust.

    Consider: These employees should be considered as peer role models and their position within the organisation as well as their potential scope of influence should be considered. Brining employees together in peer groups to discuss change initiatives ensuring each employee’s opinion and/or concerns are heard. This allows for the creation of group accountability and festers better support networks.

    5. Not recognising success

    There can be many points worthy of note along the way to successful enterprise change and all too often organisations get bogged down chasing the ultimate end goal and overlook the minor successes along the way. An attitude to change such as this can be a drain on enthusiasm as employees are constantly pressed for more with no recognition or reward for current efforts.

    Consider:  Policy changes that initially recognise and then reward the efforts that are expended in driving successful change throughout the whole of the organisation. Celebrating the achievement of a success milestone throughout the organisation fosters an enthusiastic environment and eliminates cynicism. But also special consideration should be made for individual employees who expend additional effort on a personal level such as: training or supporting other employees or putting in additional overtime.


    Organisations dedicate vast amounts of time and resource to change management, yet without consideration of the people side of change it is more likely that these initiatives will fail. Access your free copy of Case Study Lessons in ECM to unveil 6 major aspsects which affect organisational change competency and maurity.

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    Topics: change management, people side of change