Updated: Apr 15, 2021
Change management is definitely the buzz word of the decade. But if you were to ask a dozen people what it is, why it's important, or what it means to them, you would get as many different answers. I truly believe that change management can be understood and done well by anyone. What I blog about includes practical tips to overcome the most common barriers and pitfalls of managing through change. The concepts and tasks to manage change are simple, but it is definitely not easy. Many things compete for the time needed to do change management well. What you do and the way you do it are both equally important. Over the years, I have seen many businesses go through transformational change. There are some consistent themes.
Leaders truly WANT to do change well but often miss opportunities to manage it well due to so many competing priorities
As a rule, human beings generally do not like change and find ways to resist in a "corporately acceptable" way
The outcome? The business case is not met and you did not make the expected ROI projections for the project. Yes, change management is simple but it is never easy. The devil is in the details. Let's say you laid down a good tactical plan for leaders. It would align leaders across the business and help them communicate regularly to their teams. The plan has many tasks like leader meetings, employee meetings, webinars, and intranet stories about the change.
The work is simple; meet and talk about the change on a regular basis to bring people along the change journey so they will adopt the changes downstream. But, competing priorities happen and you cancel a meeting here, a story there, and a key stakeholder gets put off for a bit because your schedule is too busy to meet. Or maybe you don't think you/your leaders are ready to communicate something. Or you are afraid you/your leaders will say the wrong thing.
Every time you choose to cancel a meeting or a communication that enables alignment discussions or helps the masses to understand what is changing and why, the resistance meter spikes. You then have much more work to move the needle of employee opinion and garner support from leaders so that adoption can happen downstream. It's an ongoing steady pace and flow of two-way communication, alignment, and education.
Next time, we can talk about the many faces of resistance; how corporate culture has finessed acceptable ways to resist adoption and what you can do to recognize and get ahead of it.
To moving onward and upward together!
Common pitfall: Cancelling alignment meetings and employee communications about the change from the inception of a project/program through to the launch of the changes (go live). Each canceled meeting/story/webinar is death by a thousand pinpricks.
Solution: Plan for leadership activities to start at the beginning of the project and carry through 3-6 months after the launch of the change. And most importantly....follow through and follow through and follow through.