The ever-changing business environment of today means a state of continuous flux for companies, both big and small. The leadership and strategy management teams in collaboration with the HR department (if it is separate) must take care of the people aspects of these changes. It is important because resistance to change is experienced by the human resource pool of the organization. To handle them successfully during a major organizational change is an important task. Here are a few change management pitfalls that must be avoided:
- Don’t start late: A large number of managers make the mistake of disseminating change management information at very short notice leading to a state of panic and confusion whereby employees are not able to adjust timely. This leads to a blame game situation.
- Lack of strategy planning: Any change, big or small, has to be instituted with a well-formulated strategy that defines the steps to achieve the change. Without a strategy, the entire process will be lead astray.
- Too much noise: Big announcements for changes in the offing can be avoided. Often too much energy is dissipated in creating too much noise and then nothing much gets done on the ground. Sometimes it could be because of a lack of focus at others it could be because of an even better option. Hence, making too much noise before having an executable plan is unwarranted.
- Lack of direct communication: At times big change announcements are made through the PR channel first and employees come to know of the changes through media. This can lead to distrust among employees. It is important to let the employees know directly.
- Failure to generate urgency and importance: At times leaders may not be able to inform their teams of the changes in a way in which brings out its urgency and importance.
- Don’t just be rational: More too often managers and leaders inform their teams of the rational needs to bring the big change. However, people are emotional beings, they need to connect with the change and feel for it. Hence, it is important to create an emotional connect with the employees.
- Avoiding resistance: When your employees and team members show resistance to change, do not avoid it. Face it head on and tackle it to remove it.
- Assuming similarity of reaction: Not everyone thinks similarly. Assuming that others will respond to the change similar to you is a big mistake. You need to assume all possible reactions and create your communication strategy to tackle all of these reactions.
- Lack of the feedback loop: Often times the leaders and managers disseminate information regarding the change but forget to take feedback from the team members and employees. This is a serious mistake. It is important for you to understand what your employees have understood and whether there are any genuine problems they are facing.
- Lack of strong leadership: When managers do not display leadership traits problems may arise. Managers focus on getting things done, whereas leaders focus on getting people to want to get things done. This is extremely important. If the team members do not connect with the change and are not led, they will not be accepting of the change.
- Not paying attention to company culture: All too often, in the madness of achieving business goals, managers and leaders overlook the existing company culture. If the current culture is toxic, stagnant and non-conducive, changing the company culture can help institute any other change in the company.
- Relying too much on structure and processes: Following company structure and hierarchy are good things but being excessively dependent on the same is not. Using structures and processes to change people’s behaviour may not be directly possible. People have to be dealt with through direct communication and activities that guide behavioural change.
- Unavailability of resources and skills: Introducing any change requires two main things – expertise in the area of change and resources to bring about the change. In the lack of these two, bringing the change into the organization would not be possible.
- Having only long-term focus: It’s important to keep the long-term goal in sight. However, it is also necessary to focus on the process along the way and have short term goals leading to the main goal. In this way, the team will not be stressed for the long term goal alone.
Open-ended approach to change: Giving a longer timeline for achievement of the goal can make it too open-ended and relaxed for the employees. It is important to keep the change time bound to a shorter timeline and to extend the timeline if required.