Change Management Traps to Avoid

Change Management Traps to Avoid
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Change Management Traps to Avoid
Sand traps in golf are designed to penalize wayward shots.  To avoid sand traps, golfers focus on how to improve their long and short game.  While sand traps seem daunting, data shows that the best way to improve your golf score is by improving your putting, not your long or short game.  Change management consulting experts feel the same about change management traps to avoid.  Sometimes the subtle and less visible areas of organizational change have the greatest impact on success.

The Top Obstacles to Change Management Success
With over three decades of change management experience, we have seen a lot. We have coached companies to change management success and, when called in too late, we have picked up the pieces of change management gone wrong.

Based upon change management simulation data and mistakes made by clients who called us in to extricate them from the change management traps they fell into, here are the top change management traps to avoid:

  • Lack of Executive Support and Change Leadership
    Perhaps the most common obstacle to successful organizational change is not having enough active buy-in, support, and commitment from company leaders. Organizational change is rarely easy.  Executives must consistently and diligently make tough decisions, create a sense of change urgency, communicate a compelling vision for changes, and work tirelessly to model the desired changes while holding people accountable to the new ways of working.
    Effective change leadership translates into effective change.  Organizational change rarely happens without executive level sponsorship.

    Are your leaders truly aligned and ready to lead change when the stakes are high?
  • Underestimating Cultural Resistance to Change
    Any workplace change, regardless of how big or small, must go through your people and your workplace culture to be successfully implemented.  Healthy corporate cultures that are open to change have the agility to persevere.  Closed and misaligned corporate cultures will bring change initiatives to their knees.

    If your company suffers from misaligned strategic priorities, independent functional silos, a history of failed organizational changes, or toxic workplace politics, you probably need to back up and initiate a major change in employee mindsets.

    Do you have a clear and practical plan to handle natural employee resistance to change?
  • Ineffective or Predominately Tactical Change Communications
    Yes, communication matters.  Leadership is responsible for framing and communicating the change at the outset in a way that resonates with all levels of stakeholders. Change communications must then be carried through to all levels in the organization in a way that mobilizes employees to climb aboard the initiative with their hearts and minds.

    People want to know tactically how the change will affect them — their role and their future.  But the most important change communications are strategic and focus on the greater reasons why at the individual, team, and organizational levels. 

    Are you prepared to handle strategic change communication with empathy, authenticity, and clarity?
  • Dismissing the Fear of the Unknown
    Resistance to change is natural. Many prefer the comfort of doing things as they have always done them as opposed to the effort required to forge new and unproven paths. Do not make the mistake of treating those affected by change like scared children who cannot handle the truth.  The truth will eventually come out.

    As early as possible, share the current state analysis and business case for change that are driving the need for organizational change.  Leaders and managers need to be able to have open and honest conversations about the state of affairs while understanding and doing something meaningful about employee resistance.

    Do your leaders and managers have the change management skills to navigate change with those who are afraid of change?
  • Lack of Sufficient Resources
    We have run into many situations where leaders were so eager to begin the change process that they did not look far enough ahead. If the change will bring true value, it is worth investing sufficient budget and personnel into the project. Leaders who prepare for the scope and scale of change are the ones who achieve change management success.

    Those who pile change responsibilities on top of current workloads are setting everyone up for failure.

    Have you fairly accounted for the additional workload that affected employees must bear because of the change initiative?

The Bottom Line
Successful organizational change is rarely easy. It requires the right environment, skilled change leaders, effective communication, and adequate resources. If you want to succeed with change, make sure you plan to avoid the common change obstacles to success.

To learn more about how to create change mindsets at work, download the 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership that Accelerate Change

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