The Difficulties of Change Management - The Tale of a Change Lead

    Sep 20, 2017 | Posted by Michael Campbell

    business man looking worried over a white background.jpegAfter attending the Prosci® Change Management Practitioner Certification Programme, "Johnny" aka J was hired by the CEO as the new "Change Lead" within his 800 person strong company with 3.5 billion in annual revenue. As this company had been growing tremendously over the past 3 years, the management team approved a transformation programme involving several projects introducing some new systems and processes,  combined with some organisational restructuring, new job roles and responsibilities, and an office relocation thrown in for good measure. J was tasked to oversee the People Side of Change within this transformation programme which aimed to improve business performance and impactec over 500 employees.

    Armed with his newly acquired Prosci® tools and knowledge in Change Management, J was initially confident with his ability to deliver the objectives set for the Change. However, just two months into his new role, he soon faced several difficulties that left him somewhat in disarray. He felt overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge despite of all the hard work and planning that he had put in. 

    J's Challenges:

    1. Unsupportive, Inactive and "Invisible" Sponsor

    J's primary sponsor, "Thomas" aka T, is a veteran director within the company with more than 20 years of experience in Business Process Reengineering, Strategic Management and Project Management. However, unlike J, his sponsor had never attended any change management workshops/programmes and believed change to be "common sense" and just like throwing a switch on. He thought that J's headcount was unnecessary as his skillset brought little value to him. Moreover, T felt that this was just a small project and left the running of it to his secretary. He was hardly seen in the office and attended few project review meetings. J tried to request for a short session to convince T of the value of change management but he was always busy. T's secretary also tended to ignored most request from J for some of T's time.

    2. No formal document defining the business outcomes expected from the change 

    When J requested for the approved project management plan or the internal business case, he was shocked to learn that it had not been done and there was only a brief requirements documentation covering Current State analysis based on a meeting between T and the CEO. In other words, there was no project charter or statement of work, or any other formal documentation to encapsulate the objectives, timeline and resources for the project which highlighted that the senior management did not share a common understanding of the reasons why this change need to take place, why now and what the consequences would be if the transformation was not successful. Without a clear definition of scope and functionalities, J was unable to envisage the technical change(s) required by the organisation and translate them into the behavioural changes required by directly impacted managers and employees.

    3. Lack of Awareness of the project

    From his personal interaction with each of the department, J also realised that most of the staff, including some senior managers, had no awareness of this project and how their work would be impacted because no formal kickoff meeting had been conducted to announce this project. When J checked with T on this, he shared that his secretary embedded the launch of this project through a weekly email which updated everyone about the latest development of the transformation programme. 

    4. Resistance to ADKAR™

    To assess each individual level of change within this project, J wanted to conduct an ADKAR™ evaluation. However, without the support of his sponsor or the project manager ("the secretary), only a meagre 10% of the employees came for the ADKAR™ introductory session and responded to the ADKAR™ survey. When J asked some of the employees why they did not attend, they either shrugged him off or said it did not seem important. 

    5. Difficulties in building a common language of Change 

    As J was never formally introduced by T or the CEO, he also faced serious difficulties building rapport with the middle managers. He had tried to conduct several exclusive meetings to personally introduce Change Management and the ADKAR™ model to them but only a minority of them turned up. He believed most of them also did not read his email or pay attention to the ADKAR poster he placed on the noticeboard.

    Desperate for progress, J started to seek feedback and advice from other change practitioners that graduated from the same programme he attended. Many of his peers shared that they face similar obstacles and J was relieved to learn that it was not so much a matter of incompetence but that change is inherently difficult to introduce and manage.

    Lesson Learnt: Implementing Change Management requires excellent change management.

    As a new change practitioner, if you identify with some or all of the elements of this story at your workplace,  maybe its time to reconnect with us at CMC.

    Below are a few suggestions in which we can assist you.


     1. Come for our CMC-Prosci Change Management Refresher Workshop

    You will:

    • Reconnect with the fundamentals of change and change management
      • Refresh your knowledge and ability to effectively use Prosci’s structured approach, Best Practices research, methodologies and tools for effective change management.
    • Improve the effectiveness of your change management approach and plans for current in-flight project
      • Refresh how to apply ADKAR and the Prosci 3-Phase Process change management methodology to your project
    • Reduce the risk of your project failing to achieve its intended business outcomes after Go-Live

    Register Today

    2. Bring us in to work with you on a Change Accelerator Workshop for your project/programme 

    Our expert teams consist of professionals with a wealth of experience that span over 30 years and across a diverse spectrum of projects and programmes. We will help you to convince your most resistant executives and deliver your most challenging transformational changes to achieve your strategic goals. We will also support you to deliver change now and build capabilities to lead change in the future.

    Contact Us


    3. Read our Post on how you can ensure executive buy-in.

    4. Introduce us to your Project Manager or Sponsor

    We have helped clients from public and private domains across all types of industries to build organisational change competencies and implement the required changes in their projects/programmes. As a neutral and independent agent outside the influence of your company's politics and culture, we can highlight the tangible value that effective change management brings to the project and at a higher level, the business.  Moreover, we are able to communicate with your stakeholders in a context that will be relevant to the different challenges they each face in their respective roles.

    We are here to help you improve your organisation's chances of success. Reach out now.

    Request a No Cost Consultation 

    Topics: Leaders of Change, Difficulties of Change Management