Have You Planned for the Biggest Obstacles to Organizational Change?

Have You Planned for the Biggest Obstacles to Organizational Change?
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Contemplating a Major Change Initiative?
Organizations these days are pretty much always involved in some kind of major change initiative. It has become almost a requirement of doing business successfully. The question is which change camp you fall into — the winners or the losers. The bad news is that according to change management consulting experts, about 75% of organizational change programs fail to reach their goals; the good news for the companies looking to stay ahead of the pack is that savvy change leaders are the ones behind the 25% that succeed. To succeed, you need to overcome the biggest obstacles to organizational change.

What Separates Winners from Losers in the Change Management Game?
As participants learn in our proven change management simulation, the major obstacles to change management initiatives are usually related to people — their attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, experiences, and skills. Why? Because change must go through people.

Sadly, people’s critical role in effective change has been mostly neglected and misunderstood. Too many change leadership teams don’t pay consistent attention to people early or often enough. 

A Closer Look
If you are a person who relies on numbers to be persuaded, here are the results of a recent study by Leadership IQ involving nearly 80,000 employees and leaders on the subject of organizational change:

  • Only 15% of employees clearly understand leadership’s reasoning behind a change program and, as a result, do not recognize the need or urgency for organizational change.
  • Almost 25% of employees question their ability to succeed in the new world created by the change initiative.
  • 75% of frontline employees are overwhelmingly reluctant to leave their comfort zone.
  • Too many employees (15%) do not believe their leaders are open about the challenges their business is facing. As a result, they can only wonder why and worry.

How to Overcome Employee Resistance

  1. Create Change Clarity
    You need to make sure that each and every employee can respond with a “yes” to the statement, I understand the rationale behind the changes we are making. If they don’t understand why they need to put in the time and effort to change, they won’t do it.

    Change leaders need to make a persuasive business case for change that employees can understand, believe in, and support. Make the rationale simple but compelling, create a vision for organizational change that employees can relate to, and frequently check for understanding and buy-in.
  2. Define What’s In It for Me?
    Once employees understand the overarching rational for change, they next need to understand how the change will affect them personally and professionally. Ensure that you can provide details regarding the implications of change at the individual and team levels.

    Unless those affected by change can picture how they will contribute to and be positively impacted by the change, their resistance may be too much to overcome.
  3. Be Transparent
    While shielding employees from bad news and mistakes can feel like the right thing to do, effective change leaders know that honesty, integrity, and transparency are required if they want employees to have the confidence that the leaders responsible for change know what they are doing.

    Successful change requires a timely and ongoing flow of information to all levels of the organization.
  4. Have Appreciation for Style Differences
    In general, because of the scope of their role, leaders are far more ready and able to face risk and embrace change than their followers.  Frontline employees often resist leaving their comfort zone. Change leaders need to acknowledge and empathize with this natural style difference.

The Bottom Line
To succeed at change, you need to win the hearts and minds of those who matter most — your employees. To increase the odds of success at change, actively involve those most affected by change early and often in the business case, the vision, and the plans for change.

To learn more about how to overcome the biggest obstacles to organizational change, download The 5 Change Perspectives that Leaders Must Get Right

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance