It's often been said that change is the only constant in life. Trite though it may be, this adage rings true, especially in the business world. Markets, technologies and customer preferences are always shifting and evolving, and these factors can have a significant impact on internal operations.As a leader, it's your job to not only clearly communicate big changes, but help your team navigate through them. However, this is easier said than done, which is why we asked the experts at Forbes Coaches Council for their advice. Below, they discuss the biggest mistakes leaders make in change management, and how to avoid those errors in your own organization.
1. Not Developing A Clear Communication Plan For Before, During And After Change
Insufficient communication is the leading problem when it comes to moving employees through change. Organizations that practice transparency and provide information before, during and after the change process will have a more accepting workforce. A communication plan should be developed including different forms of communication taking place at different times. - Karin Naslund, Naslund Consulting Group Inc.
2. Ignoring The Root Causes Of Employee Resistance
People don't buy into seemingly bad ideas. Leaders make the mistake of assuming that resistance to change is due to disengaged or difficult employees. In the majority of cases, employees resist change because the information they have tells them this initiative is unwise, ill-founded or unlikely to stick. Leaders need to get curious about the true sources of resistance and take action on those. - Maureen Cunningham, Up Until Now Inc.
3. Not Asking For Or Incorporating Team Feedback
When instituting change, leaders need to constantly seek feedback on the real-time effects of the changes and be open to adjusting their plan to achieve the desired results. Leaders should be constantly measuring the effects of change and seeking feedback from the affected team members. You then have the data to make adjustments to the plan in order to get the best possible results. - David Galowich, Terra Firma Leadership LLC
4. Dictating Change, Rather Than Educating People About It
Instituting change from the top down may be your prerogative as a leader but the tendency is to bring this on as a demand and not an education. Companies that bring change on gently find that people adapt and accept it. Education encourages. Harsh decisions will be accepted but often come in more harshly. Training, teaching and peer-to-peer education are the best ways to create positive change. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.
5. Inconsistent Leadership Involvement
One of the biggest reasons change initiatives fail to materialize is inconsistent executive sponsorship. Change leaders tend to be very vocal and active in the beginning, but with time become inactive. This lack of visibility fuels more resistance to change and runs counter to a successful initiative. Leaders need to stay active and visible throughout the change cycle, not just the beginning. - Ali Merchant, Ali Merchant
6. Oversimplifying The Change
In my experience, leaders often address change management from an overly simplistic perspective. That perspective is often rooted in their own level of development. Since much of the workforce comes from what's known as an Expert or Achiever point of view, it's easy to miss the complexity of change. Such complexity calls for the ability to see the impact of change across multiple systems. - Sharon Spano, Spano & Company, Inc.
7. Expecting Immediate Acceptance Of Change
People react to a major change in phases, similar to the stages of grief. Understand that buy-in is gradual, and support your team at each phase. Are they in denial? Give them proof with a project timeline. Are you seeing resistance? Comfort them about what they may be losing. Are they exploring with lots of questions? Support them with answers. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC
8. Downplaying The Impact Of The Change
Leaders often minimize the change or, more specifically, the impact of the change on engagement and productivity. Leaders have had much more time with the change and have rationalized the impact of the change for themselves. They may also lack the courage to face the change and therefore downplay it to the team. - Michael Brainard, Brainard Strategy
9. Assuming Employees Know What to Do
Sometimes leaders of change lay out what needs to happen, yet employees don't know how to move forward. Likely feeling threatened, many employees won't say anything and become frustrated and fearful for their jobs. Training programs can provide the skills development necessary for success. Coaching programs can help employees identify their emotions and beliefs that might be holding them back. - Barbara OMalley, Exec Advance LLC
10. Failing To Actively Participate In The Change
There is only so much your change management team can do to prepare, train and reinforce within the organization. The real impact comes from the C-level and executive teams championing the change and leading by example. Leaders can't expect teams to adopt if they are not actively and publicly participating. - Leanne Wong, Leanne Wong
11. Neglecting To Involve Those Impacted By The Change
Leaders should decide the "what" of the change and engage others in the "how." People resist change when it is done to them. When they are a part it, they can see how they're impacted and how to influence it. One of the first things leaders need to do is identify key stakeholders -- both individuals and groups -- and identify ways to engage with them early and often. - Edith Onderick-Harvey, NextBridge Consulting, LLC
12. Not Communicating The Change In A Way That Speaks To Your Team's Different Personalities
Stabilizers love predictability in their day and aren't a big fan of change. Organizers want the stats to back up your reasoning. Fixers will step in and help everyone deal with the changes as painlessly as possible. Independents love change and will be pushing you for more. Use "Culture Types" to develop your strategy around roll-out, and you'll be delighted at its effective implementation. - Dr. Rachel MK Headley, Rose Group, Intl
13. Trying To Make A Big Change All At Once
Change happens frequently and can be complex. Break change down into manageable steps. Take the most immediate small step that can bring the greatest value. Mastering change comes from being present and seeing opportunities that exist now. Similar to the concept of time to market, be the first to manage the change, no matter how small. - Alan Trivedi, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group
14. Not Helping Others Envision The Possibilities
When changes come, they create uncertainty, doubt and concern among staff. Good leadership requires walking through the upcoming or ongoing change together and casting a vision of the new possibilities that will come about as a result of the change. Help your employees and teammates see the future that you see, and empathize with their potential concerns as you journey together. - Billy Williams, Archegos
15. Not Outlining And Supporting The Internal Transitional Steps
Change is situational, transition is psychological. Strong change management incorporates both processes. Guide the situational change with clarity of purpose, training and resources, and offer space and time for individuals to digest and process the associated internal transition. Making the steps of transitions known ensures the people will drive the change rather than the change driving them. - Tonyalynne Wildhaber, The Courage Practice