The 6 Most Common Change Management Mistakes

Many wrong way signs show common change management mistakes

The Most Common Change Management Mistakes Can Be Avoided
Our organizational alignment research found that the highest performing businesses have leaders and employees who are highly responsive to making the changes required to stay competitive in their marketplace.  Yet, as McKinsey reports, nearly three-quarters of organizational change efforts fail due to a lack of management support and strong employee resistance.  The good news is that the most common change management mistakes can be avoided.

The 6 Most Common Change Management Mistakes
With over twenty-five years of organizational change management consulting under our belts, we have seen much go wrong and much go right.  As a result, we can tell you a lot about the wrong way to manage change.  And if you can avoid the most common change management mistakes and pitfalls, you will find your organization on the right path to change success.

1. Pushing the Panic Button
Some leaders panic when times are tough and are willing to try almost anything to change the trajectory. But change itself is not necessarily a panacea. Leaders must analyze what is going wrong in the business to uncover the root cause before they jump to potential solutions.  To avoid this common change management mistake, analyze and then prioritize the most critical changes to be made and then be ready to spend more time preparing the foundation for change success.

2. Ignoring the “People Side” of Change
Organizational changes must go through your culture and your people to be successful. A major cause of ineffective change is when leaders neglect the confusion and fear that can stymie employees’ acceptance and commitment to new ways of doing things.  Leaders need to understand that it is only natural to resist change in the workplace.

Employees often worry about the effort it will take, their ability to learn a new way of doing things, and even whether they will be able to keep their jobs.

3. Inadequate or Ineffective Communication
The best leaders know how to communicate the necessity for change, both for the good of the company and for the good of the workforce overall. Clear, simple and frequent communications are necessary so that employees get it.  They may not like it yet, but leaders must be clear about why the change is in their best interests and in the best interests of the company over the long term.

4. Not Soliciting Employee Input
One of the best ways to encourage employees to commit to change is to actively involve them in designing how the change is to be implemented. The more employees feel that they have been part of the process and that their ideas have value in the eyes of their leaders, the more they will be committed to change success.

5. Lack of Executive Commitment and Resources
With all of the research highlighting the importance of getting employees on board, some companies forget to make sure that their senior leaders are fully aligned and committed to the change. Without 100% executive alignment, commitment and sponsorship, most changes are doomed to fail.  The second most common change management mistake is not providing enough resources, time, reinforcement or training to see that change goes as smoothly as possible.

6. Inability to Course Correct
Every experienced change leader knows that there will continue to be change all around you. Don’t be overly rigid with your once-upon-a-time program for change.  Be flexible enough to tweak the plan as you go to keep up with shifting demands and market realities.

The Bottom Line
The most common change management mistakes can be avoided if you plan ahead and prepare your team accordingly.  The ability to change should be a vital part of keeping your business healthy and competitive.  Invest the time to get it right.

To learn more about how to avoid the most common change management mistakes by having a different perspective, download The 5 New Lenses of Change Leadership

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