Many organizations launch change initiatives by putting all employees through a standard training program. However, if the organization is not at a certain level of readiness, this approach can be a huge waste of time, energy and resources. Organizations also attempt to measure the success of a change effort by the number of teams that were set up and the number or people that were trained. Judging by the number of failed change initiatives, these are ineffective and inaccurate metrics.
If you are planning some changes, watch for these four obstacles:
Viewing Change as an Event
Change initiatives frequently happen in response to a major crisis. This is typical when a serious situation arises and a customer threatens to take action if the situation is not taken care of immediately. Specific teams are formed with key employees who must identify the problem and fix the root cause. Unfortunately, when the immediate crisis is averted, it is back to business as usual. For change to be effective, the efforts must be sustainable, and not be treated as a discrete event.
Flavor of the Month
Many times, a major obstacle to successful change is an organization’s previous attempt at change. Many organizations introduce one improvement initiative after another. This flavor of the month approach makes people more and more cynical over time. A failed implementation almost always discourages future attempts at change.
Fear of Job Loss
Reluctance to improvement and change initiatives comes from a fear of being so successful that one may himself or herself out of a job. Individuals who can implement change in an organization are in high demand both inside and outside their own organization. These days, re-engineering has become a euphemism for downsizing. Organizations have re-engineered employees out of their jobs. In some cases, this was necessary. Regrettably, there are some cases where re-engineering is used as a subterfuge for job cuts that were already planned.
It Won’t Work Here
Organizations have the constant pressures of product deadlines, bottom-line results, regulatory issues, and increasing competition. Organizations will be inflicted with a syndrome known as the “paralysis of analysis” if they do not have an institutionalized change process. If this happens, they do not take any action and eventually lose market position. This phenomenon occurs both in the public and private sectors. The change process is further exacerbated if the leadership of the organization is changed every few years. Frequently any progress that has been made will be lost. This situation sets the stage for excuses.
Some people in an organization look for any excuse to dismiss any effort that will require them to change their behavior. It is valid to say that you need to tailor your approach to change to meet the needs of your organization. Recognize that change is difficult and that you will not always get the level of support you want or need. However, using a step-by-step approach you can begin to make progress in your change efforts.
Identify the level of readiness and select an appropriate approach to implementing change. In most organizations, change usually occurs from the inside out, not from the top down. Since your organization is different from any other organization, your strategy for initiating change will be unique to your organization. That is why it is important to develop a plan that meets the specific needs of your team. Do not assume that because another company had great success with a particular approach that you will enjoy the same success.
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