Top 5 Mistakes Made by Organizations When Implementing Change

With the rapid changes in technology and globalization the past decade has seen organizations of all types undergo change more than ever before. The experiences of other organizations that have undergone change initiatives large and small serve to teach us about what works and what doesn’t work when trying to introduce and implement change. Though varying sources stress competing factors as critical to the success or failure of these initiatives, certain underlying themes are common among theories. In this case, we examine the “don’ts” of implementing change in an organization. Outlined below are the five most common mistakes made by organizations when introducing a change implementation program and tips for how to avoid these pitfalls.

1. Not Building a Task Force

One of the biggest mistakes senior management makes when introducing change is to assume that key management will back the proposed effort. Not developing a team dedicated to the introduction and implementation of change puts more pressure on the key drivers. Moving too fast without winning over adequate support from the organization’s leadership may cause conflict and confusion down the road. Top leaders must recruit and work with a team strategically formed to introduce and implement change. This team must be made up of influential leaders. The members should be individuals who are known for exhibiting strong relationship management skills as well as task management skills. The chosen task force will be crucial in encouraging adoption of change by staff members at all levels. Even after forming a designated task force and ensuring lower level management is on board, change leaders must remain personally involved and committed to the effort. It is important to remain enthusiastic and positive about the organization’s goals and aligning one’s thoughts and actions to support the transformation process to the end.

2. Assuming Responses to Change Will be Unanimous

If you have been reading about change management, you have undoubtedly come across the notion that staff members are likely to approach change with fear and resistance. These are common themes in a litany of challenges organizations facing change must strive to overcome. Even so, you mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone feels the exact same way. It is a common mistake to assume that everyone within an organization will be on the same page (on one end of the spectrum or the other) when it comes to change. Even fear and resistance, which are common in transformation scenarios, exhibit themselves to varying degrees in individuals.

Since individuals adopt change at different rates, evaluate who your early adopters (those likely to accept and embrace new concepts, technologies, etc.) are and leverage them in your strategy to execute change, while patiently nurturing those who are slower to accept change. Consider inducting some early adopters into your change coalition and enlist their help in influencing others and encouraging them to open up to new ideas and ways of doing things.

3. Not Providing Enough Face Time

This mistake relates to changing employees behaviors versus shifting their attitude or improving their knowledge. The ultimate goal is to change the actions of employees. Improving knowledge or attitudes is chiefly a means to that end. As the cliché says, “actions speak louder than words.” Behaviour is impacted by one-on-one communication and counseling. Group training sessions, mass communications and computer-based information transmissions are excellent ways of improving knowledge, but not such excellent ways of changing actions and behaviours.

One of the key mistakes made by organizations when implementing change is assuming that disseminating knowledge alone is adequate in executing change. By focusing solely on communicating new ideas within the organization en masse, leaders are neglecting the type of communication that effectively shifts behaviour patterns. Honest, open, interpersonal dialogues are more effective in changing behaviour. This is where your organization’s change task force can make a big impact. Though these types of communication require greater effort, they are more effective in affecting change.

4. Not Sticking to the Vision

Once the decision to change has been made, the change coalition recruited, and the need for change communicated, you may feel that you’re on your way to a successful transformation. A common mistake made by organizations when implementing change is not defining, communicating, and sticking to a clear vision for what direction the necessary change must take. Even when a clear vision is defined and communicated in the early stages of change, often times leaders get sidetracked and fail to integrate and align all initiatives to be consistent with said vision. Management and staff at all levels must continuously analyze whether projects and activities are consistent with the overarching goals of the organization.

5. Failing to Plan Small Successive Successes

An important part of sticking to the vision is to create opportunities to achieve smaller goals along the way. These small successes will not only work directly toward achieving the desired change, but will create positive feelings of accomplishment and the drive to pursue the next goal. Overlooking the value of setting small, attainable stepping-stone goals makes organizations miss opportunities to motivate staff and make change enjoyable and rewarding. Not defining clear milestones toward the desired change can make the end result seem far off and unattainable.

If you’re in the beginning stages of the change process, you’ll be well prepared to avoid the mistakes that others have made. If your organization has already been on the road to transformation for a while, you may or may not have experienced these issues firsthand. No matter which stage of the change process your organization is in, it is never too late to consider the dangerous pitfalls that may sabotage your efforts.

Managing Change: Lessons Learned From Top Companies

Profitable companies must keep changing for continued success. Sometimes it is unexpected, sometimes it is necessary. To maintain normalcy during periods of change, employees look to their leaders for guidance. The key is to get leadership on board with the change and establish methods for helping their teams handle the change. Leaders must possess certain qualities for a smooth transition and to keep momentum in the workplace.

Navigating change is difficult; even the best ideas will fail if they are not adapted correctly. Here are the top three companies that implemented major changes and what we can learn from their successes and failures.

Alphabet

Alphabet is now the parent company of Google and is run by Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The restructure came so that the Google search engine could remain focused on its original mission to organize the world’s information. Among the companies now under Alphabet are the collection of ventures Brin and Page have delved into, including Google, Calico (their quest to cure death) and Nest Labs.

Given that this was a restructuring of a major organization, leaders should have minimized uncertainty among their employees. Instead, they shocked their employees and the world at the same time when Larry Page published a blog post on Google+. They did not give their employees much warning, and it brought the workday to a halt as everyone from interns to senior engineers reeled at the news.

The blog post addressed many of the questions leaders should answer during a time of change, including why the change was necessary and where they are in the process. However, it took employees by surprise when leadership could have been upfront about the changes and how it would affect their teams. As the situation unfolds, we will continue to learn how Alphabet is managing the transition and how its employees are adjusting.

Amazon

When you’re a giant retailer like Amazon, your name is synonymous with change. Staying competitive is no easy task, though, because you are up against other innovative retail giants. Without a solid strategy in place to ensure your company is ready for change, failure is inevitable.

Such was the case with the Amazon Fire phone launch. The online shopping company made its foray into the smartphone realm, which seemed to be a smart decision. But one detail was missing: The phone didn’t offer enough reasons for smartphone owners to switch from their Apples or Androids. The phone boasted some intriguing features, but lacked a competitive price for what it had to offer and was sold in limited locations.

Was Amazon ready for this step? Perhaps not. What at first was considered a great idea may now require “many iterations” and “some number of years to get it right,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Change readiness is a process that prepares your company to shift directions, even if it is still keeping the same overall strategic focus. Having these discussions with employees can result in an even better product.

Nike

To successfully navigate change, leaders should initiate and encourage change talk- discussion within companies that represents positive reasons for supporting change. When change talk is used well, it can prevent the “commitment dip” that often occurs when employees lose sight of the goal and revert back to old behaviors. This may have been a factor in Nike’s struggled over the years to maintain a favorable image after its factories in Asia were exposed for their abusive labor practices in the early 1990s.

Those in power at Nike didn’t act on the need to implement a more ethical supply chain until they were called out by activists, college students and consumer protesters-until customers boycotting their products hit the company’s bottom line. Their substandard work practices were a way to cut corners on costs to increase profit, which ultimately ended up costing Nike its reputation in the court of public opinion. Since then Nike has made positive changes, but it took time for the company to acknowledge all that it needed to do to improve working conditions. By working closely with employees and having ongoing conversations about what actions would be necessary to make lasting changes, Nike could have improved its supply chain practices before they made headlines.

In each of these examples, adequately preparing employees for changes and thoroughly discussing how the plans should play out could have solidified strategy execution efforts and led to a profitable innovation.

Change Management – The Top Ten Blockers in Organisations

In order to effectively manage any major change in organisations, it is necessary to understand the culture of the company, and the way that culture may actively resist any changes.

There are ten major cultural components that will affect a company’s

ability to change

1. Rules and Policies

Some of the company’s rules and policies may, for example, tie staff

down to specific jobs at specific times, or mean that specific

functions have to be done on specific times, or tie staff down to

operating only within a narrow band of responsibilities. The way to

foster change here is to eliminate rules and policies that hinder the

change and create new ones that reinforce the desired way of

operating. i.e. develop and document new SOP’s.

2. Goals and Measurement

The stated company goals, and the way those goals are measured, may

mean that the company is focussed only on those goals, to the

hindrance of seeing new opportunities or developing new ways of

measuring company achievements.

To foster change the company should develop goals and measurements

that reinforce the desired changes.

3. Customs and Norms

The customs of the company may get in the way of change. “We do it

this way because we’ve always done it this way” is a standard cry in

many companies. Rigid methods may be hindering change, for example, an

over-emphasis on strict lines of reporting, or slavish reliance on

written reports and minute taking.

To foster change it may be necessary to replace old ways of doing

things that reinforce the old ways with new customs and norms. Eg

replace written reports with face-to-face meetings.

4. Training

Company training plans may only train staff in areas that reinforce

existing company ways of doing things. To foster change it may be that

the company should replace training that reinforces the old way of

doing things with new training and think about developing experiential

training that provides real time, hands on experiences with new

processes and procedures.

5. Ceremonies and Events

Areas like committee meetings, AGMs and staff meetings all have an

effect on company culture, as to any company organised events, whether

it be “team building” exercises, or just regular organised outings.

They all serve to give both staff and people outside the company a

view of “what the company is like”, a corporate image if you like. If

change is required, the company should try to put in place ceremonies

and events that reinforce the new ways, and recognise individual and

team contributions to making the changes work.

6. Management Behaviours

The company management might be tied into behavioural routines linked

with historical ways of working. To foster change a company should

publicly recognise and reward managers who change by linking promotion

and pay to the desired behaviours. ( And the opposite often applies. Companies fostering change often do not promote or pay increases to

managers who do not come on board. )

7. Rewards and Recognition

The current staff assessment schemes in a company may be leading to

rigid hierarchies, or may be fostering one area of competence over

another eg a performance management system that measures only

individual behaviour will undermine any attempts to inculcate a

culture of teamwork. A company determined to foster change should make

rewards specific to the change goals that have been set and ensure

that the performance management system recognises and rewards the

desired ways of operating and does not simply reinforce the old ways.

8. Communications

The company communications strategy, both internal to the company, and

external to clients , media and the public, may be highly resistant to

change, and may again be tied to the companies corporate image. Change

in this area can be expensive, but companies that require to make

changes will have to deliver communications in new ways to show

commitment to change. And when change is being made, it is advisory to

use multiple channels to deliver consistent messages at all stages

during the transition, before, during and after.

9. Physical environment

This is a big area where change is resisted. Staff like their “nest”

areas, and like to feel secure in their workplace. If a company is

determined to make changes, they need to pay particular attention to

this and make sure the physical environment reflects the change in a

way that makes the staff comfortable. If knowledge and information

sharing is the goal, they should get people out of offices and into

open, shared areas. If they want them to talk to their customers, they

should create ‘virtual’ offices so that people are encouraged to work

outside the office with customers.

10. Organizational structure

Rigid hierarchies can work against change, and people at the top of

the tree don’t like having the branches rattled. Many companies in the

modern business world have found this to be a hard area to make

flexible, but if operational change is to happen in a company, there

will, of necessity, need to be organisational change. The way to make

it happen is to make sure that structure reinforces the operational

changes. Combine overlapping divisions; re-organize around customers

as opposed to functions.

In summary, all the above cultural areas have to be taken into account

if change is required in a company, and they all have an effect, in

different ways in different companies, in resisting attempts at such

change.

Make sure you understand them before implementing any big decisions, otherwise you might not be in business long enough to regret it.