Do you know that nearly 70% of organizational change initiatives fail? Corporate change management is essential for any company to evolve and adapt itself to changing situations. These initiatives could be complex like a technology migration or a merger and acquisition. Or even a simple rebranding exercise that alters a company’s brand identity like Google’s restructuring as Alpha or Facebook’s rebranding as Meta.
Clearly, the changes needed in a company’s journey are different and the way they affect employees also vary. For instance, rebranding a company’s identity may require HR to issue new email addresses to employees, but this wouldn’t significantly affect an employee’s day-to-day work. But a paradigm shift, such as building a culture of inclusion and diversity, has a more personal and deeper impact on employees.
Set up your change management for success
Indeed, implementing key changes is challenging, but there are many success stories to learn from. These successes tell us that carrying out change should begin with questions like why the change needs to happen in the first place, what is it trying to achieve, and why that goal is important.
So, why do some change management initiatives fail? There are many reasons, but here are a few things leaders can do to sidestep common pitfalls:
- Create buy-in from within. Whether big or small, change needs leaders. These champions must demonstrate the way forward and take steps to ensure that everyone is on-board with the move. Without solid internal buy-in from leaders and employees, participation and adoption lag, eventually leading to ineffective outcomes.
- Communicate the change well. To ease the transition, good communication is key. This can range anywhere from how the change is announced to formulating clear-cut policies that articulate the change well. Vague communication can cause uncertainty and anxiety among employees. A change intimation should ideally be open, detailed, and specific. It must have appropriate provisioning for employees to raise their concerns.
One example is how a CEO at the forefront of a merger spent time building the change story, mapping it to how it would help the company and individual teams improve. He then made this narrative a part of all his public speeches. This kind of effort is imperative.
- Use suitable KPIs. Blanket change programs without granular metrics to measure progress are wont to fail. Like anything else within an organization, change management needs robust KPIs that detail how minor changes employees make align with the overall change program. Examples of some aspects that can be tracked are what incidents are caused by changes, implementation framework outcomes, average time spent per change phase, and so on.
- Create learning opportunities. Training employees to cope with changes is critical for a successful transition. ‘Change training’ helps them understand success in the face of a new reality and equips them to better appreciate how the change will be beneficial to their roles and the company.
- Lead with compassion. Just as organizations spend time planning the change, they must also devote attention to employees affected by it. Even the most detailed change strategies fail without compassion and engagement in guiding the personnel through the transition.
Safe to say, strong change leaders with bold aspirations and clear accountability play a crucial role in smoothening the transition or change process for any business program.