What would you do if someone asks you to change? Change your behaviour, change how you do things, change your appearance.
There are two scenarios. You would refuse immediately saying that “you should like me as I am” or if you are amenable, you would promise to change. As Anne Enright once said, “people do not change, they are merely revealed.”
The reality of a modern organisation is constant change, adoption and development. New projects are launching to enhance the competitive advantage and increase profits. For example, technological implementations aim to improve workforce efficiency, redesigning processes to transform customer experience or change to ensure regulatory compliance etc.
Research shows that 50-85% of all organisational change initiatives fail to deliver the expected benefits they could. Efforts fail not because companies do not recognise the need to change, nor for lack of technical expertise, but because the leaders fail to understand that organisations change when the people in them change.
Why do employees fail to adopt change?
1. No clear vision and strategy
Companies fail to share their vision to evoke interest for a change, investing insufficient time on employees to understand the direction of change. John Fisher’s transition curve demonstrates how human psychology fluctuates during a change. The change journey starts with anxiety and confusion, bargaining, fear, guilt, defeat, acceptance and getting onboard of the change. Therefore, if the “betterness case” is not created in a way to address the employees’ needs during their change transition, new ways of working are unlikely to be adopted.
2. Insufficient engagement from leadership
Lack of alignment of leadership teams behind the vision leads to lack of engagement and support by the middle management. Leaders need to walk the talk to embrace and promote change. We have seen this agile working project for example, where without the leadership embracing the new hot-desking culture, getting out of their offices or mixing with the team, the employee rarely adapts to the change.
3. Change team is not high performing
Momentum and collaboration are achieved when the communication between the individuals involved in the change and the change management team is effective. Lack of clarity and prioritisation of goals can be detrimental for a change. The absence of feedback, insight and management information reporting from the users lead to the disengagement of the workforce, measurement and unrealistic direction of the change team.
4. HR processes do not support change
Fear of change is part of human nature. Culture, values, beliefs and behavioural norms need to support required performance and behavioural change. The inappropriate management of the reward and performance system can lead to the failure of employees to adopt the new ways of working.
How do we make the change a reality?
Engage your employees on a change journey is not an exact science. However, a change management frameworks can help structure an approach to address these people related reason for transformation failure.
Kotter’s Change Management Framework can address those challenges, increase stakeholders’ engagement and growth commitment to change over time. Deep and sustainable benefits can be realised when we apply the following guiding principles through the change process.
1. Prepare for change
Setting the climate for change is vital to engage the stakeholders in understanding the increased urgency for change. Thus, building awareness is crucial to understand the need for change and “why” the change is being made. At this stage, the desire to support and engage in the change should start to be cultivated.
2. Manage the change
Engaging and enabling the whole organisation lies in the communication of stakeholders to buy-in the vision and “betterness case”. Information, training and behaviour necessary to know how to adopt change should be promoted. Knowledge is key on adopting behaviours, that will turn into actions to demonstrate capabilities. Having in mind that each one is unique, the communications should address different stages of the transition curve tackling them with tailored means of communication, as people learn and receive information differently. To empower action, short-terms wins should be created.
3. Reinforce the change
To implement and sustain change the transition journey should not be left to chance – action will be taken to ensure peoples’ behaviours are changed for the long term. Internal and external factors that sustain the change, build culture and competence around the change should be maintained and reinforced.
At each stage of the framework, different change management techniques are used that we will be happy to discuss further. Get in touch!