One constant we can rely on today is change. Everything around us is changing. However, most leaders avoid conversations about change, deeming them “disruptive.” They sometimes play down change by labeling it as something different. However, recognizing and discussing change is a necessity. In fact, McKinsey reported that nearly three-quarters of all organizational change efforts fail due to a combination of a lack of management support and strong employee resistance.

Because change occurs at such a rapid pace, organizations are prone to making mistakes when managing it. The good news is that the most common change management mistakes can be identified and therefore avoided. Here are the 6 most common:

Mistake 1: Don’t panic and don’t mislabel change

Some leaders panic when times are difficult and others simply hide their heads in the sand. Good leaders call “change” what is and welcome it as a natural part of business evolution. They explain what this change will mean for the organization and for its future. Employees accept change better when they understand its impact and rationale. A dangerous mistake is to “jump to solutioning too quickly”; so ask lots of questions, solicit advice and analyze available data in order to uncover the root cause BEFORE you consider potential solutions.

Mistake 2: Ignoring the “People Side of Change”:

Change can be mismanaged when leaders neglect that confusion and fear that can hinder employees’ acceptance and commitment to something new.  Companies don’t react to change – people do. Leaders need to appreciate that it is only natural for there to be resistance to change in the workplace, as employees often worry about the effort it will take, their ability to learn new ways and even their own job security. 

Mistake 3: Not Actively Soliciting Employee Feedback or Input

Our companies are made up of people, and people are complicated and can be emotional. When someone is consulted and listened to, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility in a common and positive outcome. Therefore employees will welcome and adapt to change more readily when they have been actively involved in designing how the change is to be implemented.

Mistake 4: Setting unrealistic timelines and committing inadequate resources

Unrealistic timelines and expectations are often established to appease boards, management, shareholders, and employees. It takes time for people to begin to hear, understand, and adapt to new processes. Alignment among senior leaders is critical, and one of the most devastating change management mistakes is to not provide enough resources, time, or training to ensure that change occurs as smoothly as possible.

Mistake 5: Communicating your way out of change

Simply communicating change is not the answer. The best leaders know how to communicate that change is necessary. For change to be accepted, it is important to genuinely engage people around the reason for change and its impact. When leaders are transparent and lead with data and sound reasoning, they create a psychologically safe environment that encourages employee voice.

Mistake 6: Not being able to Correct Course

Experienced change leaders have studied “Lean Processes” and know how to oversee change that minimizes waste, uses as few resources as possible, and encourages continuous improvement. Rather than large and formal, they see change as a series of experiments, where failures are greeted as learnings, and where the processes are flexible and iterative.  Plans need to be tweaked as you go to keep up with shifting supply and demand and market realities.

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The above mistakes can be avoided through thoughtful preparation, planning and communication with your team.  Change is a vital part of keeping your business healthy and competitive and it’s a well proven business lesson that “it is better to lead the change rather than follow it”. To learn more about organizational change, speak with one of our change enablers at Bermuda Clarity Institute Website or visit us at www.clarity.bm