How to Add Organizational Change Insurance to Your Initiative

organizational change insurance picture of man with an umbrella providing protection

Organizational Change Insurance
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone offered organizational change insurance?

It Would Probably Be Too Expensive to Insure Against Failed Change Projects
Most change management consulting research contends that up to 70% of large scale change initiatives fail to meet expectations.  That is pretty scary.  Such a high failure rate is a problem for leaders looking to shift the direction of their company or team.

Not only will a 70% failure rate have significant strategic and financial consequences, but missing the mark also takes its toll in terms of lost opportunities, decreased influence, wasted resources and change skepticism.

Why is Change So Hard to Get Right?
So, why does organizational change fail at such a high rate, and what can change leaders do to beat the odds?

Start with Four Change Management Basics
For starters, pay attention to change management consulting tips regarding the importance of creating authentic urgency, clarity of purpose, thoughtful planning, and committed leadership.

Then Focus on Those Affected by Change
Then, at a minimum, make sure that those most affected by change:

  • Understand why the change is critical to success (The Why)
  • Identify how the changes will affect the company’s future (The How)
  • Have confidence in leadership’s ability to successfully manage the change (The Belief)
  • Know their supervisor is an active supporter of how the changes affect their team (The Support)
  • Believe the organization does a good job of informing employees of changes and effectively managing change (The Transparency)
  • Are actively asked for their input regarding changes that affect their work (The Involvement)
  • Perceive that there is open communication throughout all levels of the organization (The Communication)

But Things Rarely Go According to Plan
But even after following these great change management tips and in checking with your change management consulting team, there is often still a lingering worry. What about the tweaks that many will want to add on their own as they implement the change? Does this risk the overall success of the implementation?

Two Ways to Add “Organizational Change Insurance”
Here are 2 ways to add organizational change insurance to better control the “adjustments” many employees may be tempted to make without fully understanding the consequences:

  1. Be Open to Feedback
    Invite suggestions for improvement, consider them seriously, and then respond. Be willing to make changes when they make the initiative better.  Change management studies report that less than 50% of front-line supervisors on average understand the reasons behind major organizational changes.

    Remember, changes do not fail, change leaders fail.  If you want to increase your odds for success make sure those affected by change have enough information and resources to succeed, believe they are listened to, know the company takes ideas and feedback seriously and see their feedback is well received and followed up on.

  2. Be Clear About Where Managers Have Some Latitude to Tweak the Process
    Leave some room for managers to adapt the change to their operation and way of doing things so they feel some ownership of the change. But be explicit about where and when those changes can be made.

    We like using the terms Mandated, Guided and Autonomous to provide clear boundaries and to manage expectations so people know where they are empowered to take the initiative and why.

The Bottom Line
While most complex change initiatives have urgency, clarity, thoughtful planning and committed leadership, the most successful focus intensely on key stakeholders most affected by the desired changes and make sure they have what they need to make change happen.

To learn more about managing organizational change projects more effectively, download 3 Proven Steps to Better Manage Stakeholder Risk

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