When tasked with implementing a new change management strategy to improve your organisations change agility it’s vital you avoid the common change management mistakes that many organisations fail to prepare for.
Careful and thoughtful preparation is a major component in implementing successful change management initiatives, yet at this stage, people often overlook common mistakes and fail to plan for them. In this blog, we will look at 4 mistakes and how you can avoid them, in order to give your initiative the best chance of success.
1. Not learning from previous change initiatives
Unless your organisation is less than a year old, you will have more than likely implemented some type of organisational changes (big or small). During these changes, regardless of success or failure lessons will have been learned. It is vital that you use these lessons as you design your new approach to change management to help improve chances of success. Previous change initiatives are potentially the most valuable sources of information as they are easy to access and show how your organisation actually reacts to change, not an example of a company like you. Remember data is the language executives understand so harvest as much data as you can about previous changes, good or bad.
Asking the right questions will gain you valuable insights into the good and bad of previous change initiatives to help you avoid pitfalls in your current change. These include: what worked, what didn’t work, why they did or did not. Remember the more questions you ask the more detail you will uncover. Find out which means of communication resonated the most and identify who the most effective change management sponsor was. Another useful thing to look into is what resources proved the most helpful during the change implementation and if/how they helped to sustain the change.
2. Having an environment that breeds rumours
In all work environments, there will be an element of office gossip, this is a natural part of working life, people talk. If people get wind of an impending change they will fill in any gaps you don’t give them with information. If your people are not to become a flight risk it is important to get ahead of the rumours by preparing your communications strategy before any information leaks internally or externally.
Your change management approach will probably not be decided at the date of your announcement. All you require your sponsor to explain in the initial communications are why do we need to execute this change, why now and what are the consequences if we don't successfully execute this change. Provide a 2-way channel for feedback, be sincere in your request for open feedback and offer a schedule of when updates will be provided. The details can follow later. Remember as Eugene Ionesco said, its not the answer that illuminates. its the question. You want to receive as many questions about the change from directly impacted Managers and Staff as soon as you can.
Consider creating an online forum to capture any questions, comments and concerns. Then prepare your managers, sponsors and champions with the main talking points so when the questions start coming in you communicate consistent and well thought through answers.
For more information on how to build an effective communications plan in your change consider joining the CMC Prosci-certified Practitioner training program.
3. Failing to address resistance to change
People by their very nature do not like change. Physiologically our brains experience pain when confronted by change and we activate primal responses of fight or flight when confronted by unfamiliar situations. It is something business leaders simply need to accept. Once you have accepted this, you can pre-empt resistance with careful planning ensuring a smooth road to change success. Learn more about why people resist change here.
We break resistance mitigation into 3 avenues, preventative, proactive and reactive. Engage resistors, try to uncover why they are acting out. It can be very much the case that they don’t know enough, or they don’t understand the change or why it’s happening. Continue to engage with these resistors throughout the process through focus groups and demos, working to collate their feedback and input. By making them feel like part of the process they will have a better understanding of why the change needs to occur and though we don't expect them to embrace it they may accept it. For more information on a 10-step resistance management process consider the CMC Prosci-certified Practitioner training program.
4. Not getting change management buy-in
In the previous point, we addressed the importance of engaging with those that resist change but it is vital you make attempts to engage everyone, as everyone likes to feel involved.
Begin by soliciting feedback as early as possible, preferably as soon as the change has been announced. Feedback is key to understanding what those involved with the change believe may go wrong and allows those designing the change initiative to tweak and correct it. If it is a new system, for example, you can gain buy-in from employees by beta testing the product and providing opportunities to attend interactive product demos and training sessions. In a previous blog, we looked at other means of securing change management buy-in which you can read here.