8 Reasons for Change Failure


Some major change initiatives have proven successful, however, there are a lot of examples of failures and disappointing results.

With these failures come wasted resources and scared or frustrated employees. There is usually a downside to change, often accompanied with pain, however a lot of it is avoidable.


The 8 most common errors of reasons for failure include:


Not Enough Urgency

The most common error is to allow too much complacency when trying to change an organisation. Without a sense of urgency it is unlikely the organisation will achieve its objectives for several reasons. They can include underestimating how hard it is for people to be driven out of their comfort zones, overestimating how much change can be forced onto an organisation and confuse urgency with anxiety causing people to resist change even more.


Underestimate the Power of a Sensible vision

Communicating a sensible vision helps to direct, align and inspire people. Without a clear and compelling statement of where all the change is leading, each choice an employee face can create conflict, confusion, debate and waste hours of time and lower morale.


Failing to Create a Powerful Guiding Group

The initial group needs to be powerful in terms of formal titles, expertise, reputation, and information. Without the strong leadership, the guiding group will not achieve the power required to overcome the sources of inertia.


Not Communicating the Vision Enough

Trying to introduce major change is impossible without the support of most staff. Sometimes these staff are required to undergo inconvenience or make short-term sacrifices. They will only do this if they believe the change is possible and worth it. Without credible communication, the employee's hearts and minds are not on board. The behaviour by important individuals needs to also be consistent with the communication.


Allowing Obstacles to Block the New Vision

To achieve the new vision requires action from a lot of people. If there are obstacles, real or imaginary, and they are not removed, people feel disempowered, and this undermines change.


Not Creating Short-Term Wins

Any change initiative takes time,, and momentum can be lost if there is no feedback loop such as celebrating short-term wins. Short-term goals need to be celebrated and acknowledged, to prevent employees giving up or joining the resistance.


Hastily Declaring Victory

In an effort to show the success of the change, victory can be declared too soon. It takes time for change to be fully integrated into the culture - 3-10 years. This premature victory halts momentum as people think they have 'arrived'. Once this happens, the powerful forces of tradition start creeping back in.


Not Incorporating the Changes Firmly Enough into the Culture

When the pressures of change are removed, there is a tendency for tradition to take over again. Reinforcing the new behaviours and the new benefits must continue in order for the culture to fully integrate the new way of doing things. Underestimating the cultural aspects of change is a recipe for failure.


The above errors are avoidable by understanding why organisations resist change, and how the right leadership is required to support and implement the multistage process.


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