They say change is the only constant, and that’s definitely true for organizations that want to stay ahead of the competition. The markets we are a part of, the technologies we use, are all evolving at a rapid pace, and companies either keep up or lose out to the competition. And the only way to keep up is to adopt and implement changes within the organization: change in processes, updating skills, and a change in mindsets.
Strategic change initiatives are an integral piece to the progress of every organization. But it’s also true that 50-70% of all change initiatives fail to bring in the anticipated impact. If change is so critical, why do companies get it wrong so often? More importantly, how do you make sure that strategic change initiatives at your organization are actually successful?
Why do change initiatives fail?
The fundamental reason why strategic change initiatives fail is that humans are resistant to change. Whenever we are forced to make a drastic change in our life or the way we work, it often leads to fear and a lack of enthusiasm.
Another key problem is that while the upper management and key stakeholders are convinced of the need for change, the entire team does not have a clear vision of why it is necessary. For them, it is a sudden upheaval that’s difficult and unwanted. And without understanding the need for it, or clear goals and benefits in sight, a majority of the team is not really invested in the initiative. So, as with all things half-hearted, it fails.
How to Carry Out a Successful Transformation Initiative?
It’s clear by now that a successful change or true transformation cannot simply remain in the minds of the upper management. The vision and the goals have to trickle down to the rest of the team to get them excited about the change, and willing to play their part.
So here are three steps to a successful transformation:
Communicate Your Vision
The implementation of change in organizations is usually driven from the top-down, as in the leadership lays out the plan and the team is simply supposed to follow that plan. But there is a dire need to change this approach. For effective transformational efforts, your organization should practise employee engagement, and make sure that you:
- Share the big picture with the team: why this change is necessary, what is the goal to be achieved with this initiative, how will it benefit the company and the team. All of this should be clearly communicated to the team, to get them to buy into your vision. When they know the complete context and can see how it will be beneficial, they are more invested in making it successful.
- Ask your team for their perspective on the proposed changes. Open up the conversation so employees can put forward their doubts and concerns, which you can help resolve. This will also reflect the fact that you trust your team to also come up with new ideas on how to better implement the changes. It shows inclusivity, and once again, increases engagement with an investment in your goals.
- Guide your team through the transition. Employees will also adopt change initiatives more easily if there is a properly planned and phased implementation, where they have clarity on what to do. What exact processes to change, what new skills to acquire, what is the new way to do certain tasks, all of this should be clearly communicated, so they can participate in the transition efficiently. Engaging your employee will help you secure enough buy-in which may require a little extra effort in the beginning but the hard work will always pay off with affirmative results in the end.
Getting the whole team on board, taking their perspectives, and phasing out change can seem time-consuming. The leadership may feel that things are not moving fast enough. But this is necessary if you want the change to be sustained, and actually yield results, rather than just being cosmetic.
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Have the Right Resources in Place
Resources are needed to accommodate changes in any organization. Even short-term change initiatives require resources to ensure proper implementation. When the much-needed resources are lacking, change initiatives in the organization can be a cause of frustration, leading to failure.
Before a change initiative is implemented in any establishment, studies should be carried out to ascertain the cost implication of that change. A specific approach to change may result in a faster way of getting a job done, but it may lead to incurring more costs.
When the cost implication of an initiative is not properly thought out, it is destined to blow up in the face of the company mid-way.
Besides expenditure, one should also plan if the change initiative involves upskilling the teams. If yes, is there a process in place to do so? Does the organization offer courses and learning opportunities for employees to imbibe the new skills, or do they have to figure it out on their own?
Lack of in-house training and learning option can prove to be discouraging for the employees, and impede acceptance of the changes.
Leverage Your Organizational Culture
When strategic initiatives are not in line with the organizational culture of an establishment, they are destined to fail.
Employees will also adopt change initiatives more easily if they are properly guided through the transition process. A sure way to conquer the fear that comes with change initiatives is proper guidance. It guides how people operate and react to new changes. If the leadership or the management pushed a change initiative that does not align with the organizational culture, it is likely to face higher resistance.
This can be tackled in one of two ways:
- Work to foster a culture that is open to learning and change, and responds to change initiatives with enthusiasm rather than fear
- Phase out your change initiative in a manner that aligns with your organization’s prevailing culture. This means avoiding drastic changes and helps teams find their footing in the new way of doing things.
In the end, humans are engineered to naturally resist change and so are your teams. The only way to ensure successful change is for the management to lead the employees by example instead of only asking the employees to do it. Strategic change initiative demands a deep level of engagement with the employees, to help them guide through the transformation and make it sustainable.
The Journyz platform is a great place to engage employees and help them navigate through change. Features like Townhall, Ideas, and other campaign initiatives can help open lines of communication, and make the transformation into a fun process.