Only 30% of change programs succeed. The statistic is nearly ten years old, yet so believable and supported by far newer surveys. That’s right, even in a world where we can accept our operating systems are outdated in less than a year, we somehow cannot seem to update our business or organizational processes successfully or unscathed. Chalk it up to human nature’s hatred of change or downright obliviousness, but don’t kid yourself: we needed to master change management and we needed to yesterday.
Change Platform > Change Management
The basis of change management is simple: develop a cogent plan of action that will motivate employees through company changes and leave no employee disengaged or unaware. In order to do this, many organizations turn to Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter’s classic 8-step change management model, which is a guide to beginning the planning process. Here’s the gist:
- Create Urgency: Develop a sense of need for the change
- Form a Coalition: Get your people involved
- Create a Vision: Gather team insight and create a unified approach
- Communicate the Vision: Create a message and incorporate it in everyday communication within the company
- Remove Obstacles: Identify barriers, human or otherwise, and proactively develop solutions
- Create Short-Term Wins: Establish smaller goals that can be easily met and show progress quickly
- Build on the Change: Reiterate continual learning and do not become satisfied too quickly, so the process isn’t abandoned
- Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture: Introduce to the organization’s day-to-day culture so it becomes habit
Try Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter's classic 8-step model to ace change management:
Kotter’s approach is really an outline for implementing a new process or addressing an internal adjustment. What’s antiquated in organizational change management is how often it is seen as one that needs to be managed instead of one being participated in.
"In most organizations, change is regarded as an episodic interruption of the status quo, something initiated and managed from the top. The power to initiate strategic change is concentrated there, and every change program must be endorsed, scripted, and piloted before launch.” -Gary Hamel & Michele Zanini, Co-Founders of Management Innovation eXchange
Read more on the Science Behind Setting Business Goals and Achieving Results.
Why Traditional Change Management Plans Fail
Often, change management is failing before it’s even begun, whether the plan is well-organized or not. The problem, as Hamel & Zanini suggests, is that traditional change management is generally reliant on the occasional need for change. This may never have been acceptable, but is especially inefficient with today’s technology and workforce priorities. Do any of these situations sound familiar?
Often, change management is failing before it's even begun. Don't waste everyone's time and patience:
Problem: The plan is more about damage control, not proactive management.
Your people believe change starts with management. Depending on the size or logistics of your company, executives may not even realize there’s an issue until it has reached enormous levels. It’s great to have respect and the need for approval before big things are set in motion, but if your employees are afraid to initiate or suggest process adjustments, there’s a good chance they are afraid to clue you in on problems.
Problem: Change causes the team to erupt in collective groans.
Possible Cause: It could be that your people are innately afraid of change...or it could be that your organization has a habit of making every adjustment a big, hairy deal. Traditional change management plans have a habit of sounding like barked orders instead of mutually beneficial collaborative events. A little more inclusion could make a world of difference in the success of changes.
Problem: Management has little to no knowledge on how the change affected the team.
Possible Cause: One possible cause is that management never asked. With all the evaluation or performance management tools at your disposal, this is absolutely avoidable. However, the cause could also be that traditional change management dictates change discussions should be on a “need-to-know” basis. In most cases, employees don’t need to know. This is detrimental as employees are going to be affected anyway and might even have innovative ideas on how to approach situations.
Talent Management and Change Management
If your organization has experienced any of the above problems when initiating a change, you might have seen an influx in disengagement and a loss of productivity. There may have even been increased turnover and attrition. Convincing employees change is good is far more than listing out all the reasons it will help. Your people want to be involved in decisions, offer input and feel empowered to initiate pieces within their department. In other words, change management isn’t a take over and overhaul, it’s a company-wide project built to suit all employees as best it can.
If you're experiencing these problems during organizational change, you probably need to do this:
Read more on Driving Engagement with Talent Management.
That’s why continuous talent management is so important to company development and growth. Change should be inclusive and a concrete talent management solution will provide the platform needed to identify problems early on, communicate the steps being taken and evaluate progress every step of the way. If you’re looking for a platform for your employees, take a moment to check out ClearCompany’s performance management tool.
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.