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Why change management efforts fail


Managing change and transformation successfully within an organisation requires that leaders possess great abilities to understand and communicate with their people. Numerous studies have been conducted into what makes managing people during times of change effective and what hinders the process and, therefore, negatively affects the outcomes.

One of the most illuminating studies was Tower Watson’s Change and Communication ROI Study which was released in 2011. This study concluded that organisations that are effective in communicating and managing change are 2 ½ times more likely to achieve better results and greater success than their counterparts.

Attended good managing change courses to ensure that you get things right is therefore imperative for any organisation that is going through a transition or turbulent times in general. However, many change management efforts fail due to some common oversights that senior leaders and managers make when communicating change to their people.

One of the biggest mistakes that organisations can make with the process of change is moving too fast. People take time to adjust to things, and as the most affected people in any change in a company are the employees, it makes sense to plan a course of action over a period of time and give people a chance to get to grips with any proposed changes.

The transition curve, developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, is a powerful and highly regarded model which is helpful for understanding the phases of organisational transformation and personal transition. It is really useful for helping leaders and managers to identify the type and level of communication required during any change programme:

When you fully understand the nature of change and the transition curve, you can plan how you will minimise the negative impact of the change and get your people on board with the transformation. Change management programmes fail through inadequate communication across the four stages of change. In order to ensure that you don’t fall into this trap read our suggestions below for support during the different phases of change:-

Phase 1

It is crucial that you communicate well and often at this stage. In fact, you cannot over communicate. Make sure that you signpost people to how they can get more information if they need it and allow time to answer any questions and queries that they have.

Phase 2

It is really important in this phase to ensure that you address any problems early on with clear communication and support. You also need to take action to minimise and mitigate the difficulties that people will experience. Keeping your eyes and ears open and reacting very quickly are vital.

Phase 3

Phase 3 is the turning point when you are implementing successful change programmes. You have got to be continuing to communicate as well as before and training and developing people with the new and different skills that they need to fully embed the change(s).

Phase 4

This phase is what you have been aiming for. However, you must still communicate the benefits of the change and celebrate success. Many organisations fail at the last hurdle which can result in the change not being fully embedded. By celebrating the achievement you establish a track record of success and this makes things easier when the next period of transformation occurs.

Author: Karen Osborn is a highly experienced Key Account Manager working in the Learning & Development arena on bespoke development programmes and organisational culture. Karen leads and creates effective learning & development programmes for a range of clients at leading training consultants, Thales Training & Consultancy.

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