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POPin Blog

What’s Gone Wrong with Change Management?

More than 70% of corporate change initiatives fail, according to findings by Gallup senior consultants David Leonard and Claude Coltea. Consider that stat for a moment – 70% is a staggering level of failure, given how high the stakes are for most companies. Failed change management initiatives have serious negative effects on employee productivity and morale. Too often, they result in widespread staff disengagement, reduced confidence in management, and higher employee turnover rates. Gallup’s researchers point to two main causes for this problem. First, most change initiatives focus on the change agents in charge of the process, rather than the front-line business managers who actually implement the changes. Secondly, most change initiatives do not guide front-line managers toward the specific actions that are needed to achieve their desired business outcomes. Adding to these two central mistakes, several other factors contribute to the failure of change initiatives, including:  
  • Lack of a clearly communicated strategy to all stakeholders – employees, partners and customers
  • Lack of buy-in from influential leaders in the organization. Even when a change initiative is minor in scope, senior management must perceive it as being valuable to the organization.
  • Failure by senior leaders to measure the progress of the change initiative
  • Lack of adequate technology to create and sustain the change initiative
  • Lack of positive, transparent reinforcement to teams on the front lines of change
  • Lack of understanding about how the change will ultimately affect employees
  In short, change initiatives usually fail because not enough attention is paid to managing the “people” side of the process, according to “Making Change Work,” a paper by Tony Laffoley, program director of Executive Development at the University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School. Most people resist change at first, so they must be convinced why the change is in their best interest, asserts Laffoley. To do so, it’s wise to secure executive sponsorship, identify the right change agents, conduct a stakeholder analysis, and develop a clear communication plan before piloting the initiative. Leaders should also encourage a positive organizational culture that fosters change initiatives. Strategies for change management should be directly aligned with the organization’s underlying needs. One effective way is to tie change initiative actions to their resulting financial or economic outcomes. To get everyone on the same page, leaders should articulate a clear vision about the change initiative’s desired result, and give team members ownership over the process. Then encourage open communications with a strong feedback loop. POPin sessions can provide an ideal platform to gather ideas and share results. To succeed, companies need to invest the necessary time, effort and resources to really engage front-line managers. Otherwise, their change management projects are likely to end up in the wrecked graveyard of countless failed initiatives.