Digital transformation and constant innovation in the market have made it so that companies understand that organizational change is inevitable for those that want to grow. In this demanding context, organizations must not only be capable of change, but must learn to live in a permanent process of adaptation. Organizations that resist change are destined to fail, just as are those that don’t know how to effectively conduct change management do not prosper.
So if your organization needs to implement changes, how can you overcome obstacles and find success? The starting point is understanding that most change management processes fail. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why change management efforts are unsuccessful:
1. Inadequate planning
Oftentimes, organizations are so focused on implementing changes that they go straight to the execution phase without appropriately performing the initial planning needed. And this is what ends up leading the entire project to failure right from the start. Without a well-designed plan, the result will likely be some sort of failure later on.
Successful change management starts with a solid strategy. You need to know why you want to change, the result you expect, who will be affected, and how you intend to execute it. Effective planning for change means identifying all of the conditions and activities that should happen in advance so that the project is successful.
How you communicate change is as important as your plan for implementation. Communication failures are the source of a myriad of problems. Anxiety and resistance are inevitably higher when people do not understand why the change is necessary.
Most major transformations are justified based on the expectation of having a return; nevertheless, this justification should be clear and desirable for all of the main parties involved. You need to help them to understand why the change has to be made and how this will affect them, since people want and need to understand how they will be impacted.
When implementing any new process or technology, every employee that will be affected should be identified. After assessing the impacts, a directed communication plan needs to be developed. Employees should feel that they have the tools and knowledge they need to embrace the transformation with confidence.
3. Lack of alignment in change management
Change can’t happen and really doesn’t unless there is alignment among all stakeholders on why it is occurring to begin with.
There should be a fundamental agreement among everyone involved in implementation regarding the need for change, because without a unified vision, plans can easily get lost.
If everyone is aligned around goals, they are more likely to be aligned in effectively building a change management plan.
In other words, when your team agrees with the scope, size and importance of a project, your change management efforts will provide measurable results. Without this foundation, the process is destined to fail before it even starts.
4. Lack of Resources
A lack of resources is one of the most common reasons why organizational change is unsuccessful at most organizations. The change process needs to be implemented and then tested, improved and enhanced. Without appropriate planning of the resources necessary, and especially when resources are not measured and supplied for the last stages of the change, all of the desired results will not be attained.
5. Inadequate support from leadership
The fact is that organizational change is less likely to succeed without support from leadership. Leaders should be proactive and consistently support the team as changes are designed and implemented. They should clearly communicate the benefits to stakeholders, listening and responding to their concerns.
6. Underestimating the scope of implementation
Although a thoroughly developed change management program can bring transformation in a short period of time, this rarely or never happens overnight. More resources and time than were initially forecast and planned are required for most large projects to be successful, and many modifications can be made as a result of underestimating the scope or resources or having insufficient time.
Part of developing a successful change management program is understanding this scope and timeline for implementation and effectively communicating it. If you have a good idea of the scope of the actions to be executed, you will have a more precise definition of how long it will take to implement them.
Before taking measures for implementation, consider the process from start to finish. What is necessary to implement the organizational change you want to attain? Plan resources in advance. Describe the resources you need and how long it will take. Defining the scope of future work will make it easier when it comes to execution and gaining support from your team.
7. Neglected stakeholders
Successful change management requires a significant contribution from stakeholders; however, if you do not appropriately map out who the real stakeholders are and what they will need to execute project implementation, your change management efforts will be for naught.
In the early stages of planning, you should consider everyone who will be affected by the project. Ask for feedback in advance from the stakeholders involved, and always provide itineraries or timelines with lots of communication. These efforts will give stakeholders ownership of the plan’s success and greater visibility in the change process.
8. Cultural misalignment
Sometimes, change is unsuccessful due to a lack of support or strategy. It simply failed to gain strength because it didn’t fit with the company’s culture. Before embarking on an organizational change project, ensure that it matches the cultural characteristics of your organization. Otherwise, you have two options: re-think your project or change your organizational culture.
9. Active resistance
People frequently feel more comfortable doing things a certain way because they’ve “always done it this way.” Unfortunately, many change management programs fall victim to “active resistance.”
Overcoming some people’s resistance to change is not easy. Nevertheless, there are steps for approaching and overcoming the most common sources of resistance. Make sure to prioritize actions that build trust, help to overcome past mistakes and define expectations. Turn resistance into plans for action and specific objections into goals for building support for change.
10. Lack of tools
Without a well-documented change process, core elements of your plan can be easily misinterpreted or lost. So a program that starts off on the right foot can rapidly run into problems without the support of a tool.
Applying new digital tools can make change more significant and lasting for those experiencing it and for those implementing it, leading to the transparency, collaboration and communication that are essential to success.
11. Failure to provide grounds for organizational culture changes
The final and most difficult obstacle to implement lasting changes is to integrate change into your organizational culture. Even with communication, leadership and vision, efforts can fail, unless they are seen as organizational norms and habits.
As the change takes effect, you need to show employees and other stakeholders that all of the effort is having a positive impact. Frequent communication that highlights the progress of implementation and celebrates accomplishment of goals can help to reinforce the efficacy of change efforts and keep them on employee’s minds. Remind stakeholders of the costs of not changing and consciously focus on celebrating results achieved.
As we have seen in this article, mastering the change management process is one of the most challenging issues for any organization, and avoiding these traps will greatly increase your chances of success.
If any of this obstacles is hindering innovation and change management at your organization, comprehensive planning, the necessary tools and frequent communication will help you to implement and maintain the success of Change Management at your organization, and SoftExpert can help you on this journey by centralizing the entire process and making it visible in just one place.
The Innovation and Change Management (ICM) solution provides a structure to manage innovative ideas and suggestions for improvements and changes, in addition to assessing the impacts of new business processes, organizational changes or cultural changes, letting organizations quickly respond to changes in the market, adopting strategic initiatives and new technologies faster and with less impact.
With the ICM solution, you have everything you need to efficiently organize and manage your Change Management process, while also promoting and strengthening a culture of innovation at your workplace. Ask for a demonstration today and see how SoftExpert can help you efficiently achieve results and goals.