Change Management: Five Reasons Organizational Change Fails

 Four colleagues looking at charts and graphs together.
Change requires commitment from the entire organization.

Change is hard, but managing it is harder. Many organizations struggling to make meaningful alterations to their structure have run into any number of roadblocks. Here’s are some of the ways that organizational change fails and how to overcome them with effective change management.

Keeping Reasons Opaque

There is no “need-to-know-only” when managing change. If people don’t understand why they’re doing something, why it will help in the long run, or why it’s necessary for the company, they’re likely to view it as annoying and useless. Clarity as to why the change is necessary, what steps they personally need to take, and why, will increase commitment and turn skeptics into advocates.

Mistaking Horizons for Goals

If your company makes staplers, and you decide that this time next year, it’ll make cars, you’re going to run into problems. Yet many organizations attempting change bite off more than they can chew, and promptly choke on it. Meaningful change can gather momentum surprisingly fast, yet often there’s a series of smaller steps that built that momentum. Pick clear, cogent, achievable goals with a reasonable timeline.

Leaving No Room For Error

There is no achievement or change in human history that doesn’t have decades, sometimes centuries, of failed attempts to make it happen behind it. We often make the mistake of sweeping this under the rug, but it offers a valuable lesson. Mistakes will be made. Timelines will be missed. Priorities will have to shift once your plan goes into place. And sometimes plans will change. Being flexible and forgiving will both keep people from being discouraged while allowing change management to stay on track.

A couple of colleagues looking at information displayed on a laptop screen together.
Teamwork leads to better change management.

Lack of Commitment, Top And Bottom

Everyone who’s been a parent, or a child, knows just how ineffective “Because I said so!” is as an argument to change settled practices. Organizations change because a majority of people in them commit to changing. While some change can happen exclusively from the top-down or bottom-up, much of it has to be done by consensus. Getting everyone on board is key to effective, lasting change, and that includes putting aside the “set it and forget it” mindset. The C-suite needs to be as committed to the change as the rank and file.

Not Setting Aside Proper Resources

Change needs resources. For example, few of us have broad stretches of spare time in the workday, and change requires time dedicated to it: Time to learn new systems, time to study new rules, time to participate in feedback meetings, and take surveys.

The same is true of other resources, like funding, supplies, and software. Even if a change ultimately will save time and frustration, there’s still a “hump” that needs to be surpassed, whether it’s learning how to take on a new tool or incorporate a new process. Ensure that everyone has the proper time to absorb, respond, and learn about the change.

Change management takes work, but more than that, it takes investment. Planning ahead of time for the obstacles you have to overcome, as well as leaving room for those you haven’t anticipated, will be key to effective management. To learn more, contact us.

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