5 mistakes when implementing change

Do you wonder why organisational change feels so hard? Why do people react poorly? Why does the original business case for the change seem to get lost? Why has the scope changed so dramatically to the original plan? These are all too common questions in the world of organisational change. At the heart are five easily preventable mistakes.

The secret when implementing change in organisations is to recognise that it is your people who will determine whether your plan is a success.

1. Are your leaders aligned with the change?

All too often change can be undermined by senior leaders. They will be seen to lack enthusiasm; they may even distance themselves from the change or worse behave in a contradictory manner. People are great at spotting misalignment and even better at working out how to play it to their advantage.

2. What are we supposed to be working on?

Businesses are ambitious in their goals. Shareholders demand a return; executives have egos to maintain and a requirement to maintain or keep ahead of the competition. Add to the mix external stakeholders (government, regulators or similar) imposing their will on the business and how they believe it should operate. Confusion reigns amongst your people on what are the priorities and which are the important ones. Even worse when competing priorities emerge, the battle commences for essential resources.

3. Imposition or involvement?

Having made the strategic or tactical decision to change how you engage your people will determine your success. Business is both busy and demanding; it expected the results yesterday. It is all too easy to focus solely on the execution of the plan. Being able to tick off the task on the project plan is one thing, but the lasting effects can be both costly and ultimately fail due to the lack of adoption by the end user.

4. Why do we measure the wrong things?

We all know that businesses move at a fast pace. A symptom is failing to track the impact of the changes implemented. Success gets measured in the execution of the project. The reason for the change gets lost and the impact not measured. Ineffective change represents an enormous hidden cost. Benefits are unrealised due to lack of engagement, employee resistance, and worse, workarounds (the way we have always done it/the way we prefer to do it) are created.

5. Why does it feel like everyone wants a say?

It’s important to decide who you will involve, why you are including them in the process and how you will engage both internal and external stakeholders as getting this wrong can create landmines. Is there agreement on their level of involvement? If not, you will find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of time managing fallout and not advancing your project.