4 Change Risks and How to Overcome Them Conversation-by-Conversation

3 people talking about change risks

Change Risks Are Real
Our change management experts suggest a new, simplified way to look at managing organizational change risks effectively.  They suggest thinking of the change process as one that occurs conversation-by-conversation. After all, aren’t most changes catalyzed through dialogue…productive discourse where ideas are exchanged and modified according to the influence of others?

Change Risks Are Different By Change Management Phase
Throughout a change initiative, change risks change in complexity, strength and form.  If you agree that communicating effectively with one another is a way to introduce, gain support for and implement organizational change, then it is critical that the communication of and through change be handled right. To excel (and in some cases to survive), companies and leaders must have the capability to successfully navigate change.

Top Four Change Risks by Phase
In our over twenty years of change management consulting, we consistently run into the same major change risks during the four primary phases of change:

  1. As You Set the Stage: A lack of understanding of why the change is needed, and what the change is meant to achieve.
  2. As You Guide the Change: An unclear vision and strategy for the change, and/or no designated guiding coalition to lead the change.
  3. As You Make It Happen: Inadequate communication, training and empowerment of managers and teams throughout the organization.
  4. As You Make it Stick: A failure to provide incentives and to acknowledge small wins that reinforce the expected changes.

Four Change Management Guidelines to Mitigate Change Risk
In each phase of change, there is a breakdown in communication…whether through a lack of clarity, inadequate dialogue or failure to reinforce desired behaviors. Here are four change risk management guidelines to ensure that your communications around change are positive and successful:

1.  Actively Include All Employees in the Conversation, Especially at the Start
The more people are involved at every level, the less opportunity there is for confusion, upset and resistance. A major change initiative will affect the entire workforce. Give everyone a chance to find out where they fit in the new order and how “their world” will be changed.

If you leave anyone out of the discussion, you leave room for misunderstanding, rumor and even mutiny.

2.  Throughout the Process, Make Sure the Change Communication Goes Two Ways
Schedule ample time and opportunity for real dialogue that includes questions and honest answers. This should happen at every gathering…at the launch, at team meetings, at progress updates, and at final wrap-up and project evaluation.

3.  Require Every Team Meeting Include the Change as a Major Part of their Agenda
Team members need to share their thoughts on how they view the change. A sharing of perspectives is necessary to promote better understanding of how the team can collaborate for change success. Meetings should be held as often as needed to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that everyone is on board.

The open sharing of information is critical to the success of the initiative.

4.  Don’t Stop Communicating as the Change Takes Effect
This is the time to track progress, acknowledge the wins and reinforce the desired behaviors. Good discussions around what is going right and what needs adjustment enable the change to keep moving in the hoped-for direction.

The Bottom Line
Change is never easy…especially when most workers prefer the status quo. But when you use positive two-way conversations to support the change process, change is easier and more likely to succeed.

To learn more about managing change risks, download 3 Proven Ways To Better Manage Stakeholder Risk

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