Be Honest About the Cost of Organizational Change

Be honest about the cost of change

Rule number one, be honest about the cost of organizational change if you want to create an atmosphere of trust and commitment.

Why?  In the field of change management consulting, two things are certain:

  1. Change is difficult
  2. There will always be some resistance to shifting from the old way to the new way.

What we have learned in almost three decades of experience is that it never pays to underestimate the cost of organizational change or to portray the end result in terms that are unrealistically glowing. If you do so, you will quickly lose the commitment to change from even your most devoted proponents.

There are almost always personal and professional costs to any major change. Too often we don’t fully realize the full toll organizational change will take, and yet if we don’t follow the path to change, who knows where we would end up?

If you are planning an organizational change, be honest about how difficult the path forward may be and the challenges you will most likely face. Try to prepare others for what it will take to succeed – personally and professionally. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” If you are leading an important change initiative, you should make sure you have:

  • Balance.  The organizational change will make a significant improvement in both the short-term performance and the long-term health of the business whenever possible.  This short- and long-term balance helps to alleviate many common obstacles to change.
  • Resources.  You have the resources and support required to succeed.  Why this seems obvious, you would be surprised at how often organizational change leaders underestimate what is required to shift where the business is headed or how things get done in a way that aligns with the business strategy and the organizational culture.
  • Honesty.  If you want people to have the proper resolve to succeed, do not gloss over the costs associated with change.  If you want people to commit to take the journey with you, spell out the costs and risks associated with the changes along with the anticipated benefits. Examples of costs and risks to consider include: project delays, missed milestones, budget overruns, rework, decreased productivity, employee attrition, decreased quality of work, lost investments in the “old way”, opportunity costs, employee disengagement, customer and suppliers dissatisfaction, stress, confusion, resistance and inaction.

Want to learn about changing corporate culture?  Download The 4 Do’s and 3 Don’ts of Culture Change Now

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