I have witnessed many changes fail, from poorly implemented CRM systems that have compromised the organisation’s ability to service their customers effectively to inadequately executed acquisitions where the full business benefits were never realised. So why do so many large scale changes fail to live up to management’s expectations?
I believe there are a number of pre-requisites for successful change. Some of these have been well documented over the years and a few are from my own observations and experience. Successful change happens when:
- There is a compelling need (i.e. ‘we have to do this because….’) for the change and a clear vision for it. If change is simply a ‘good idea’ or a ‘nice thing to do’ it is likely to fail.
- Leaders in the business demonstrate their commitment to change by regularly ‘walking the table’. So if the change involves restructuring and cost cutting, it’s probably best if senior managers don’t travel first class!
- Employees understand what the changes mean for them personally and what they will be expected to do differently.
- Managers and their staff are involved in and can help shape the changes in the areas that they are responsible for. Dictating change is rarely a recipe for success!
- People involved in the change are regularly communicated to, they are listened to and their concerns are managed and dealt with promptly and effectively.
- Individuals have the skills, capability and confidence to manage the reaction to change both in themselves and their teams.
- Everyone is encouraged to behave in line with the changes and consequential actions taken if they don’t.
- People are given the time and space to implement change as well as doing their day job. Staff need to be given time away from their day job to make changes happen.
As I mentioned previously, I have seen many changes fail, mainly due to management not taking cognisance of one or more of the points above, and as a consequence not getting the engagement and commitment of their people to change too.