Effective change brings vitality, enthusiasm, and often higher profits to businesses. But it doesn’t happen overnight. 70% of all change initiatives fail and often for the same reasons. Here are the top 5 reasons why, so you can plan for success:
1) You bit off more than you can chew:
Idealism drives change. We develop a vision for what our business can look like, we develop a plan, and we go for it. The tricky part of having a vision is sensing how to portion it out into winnable pieces.
Don’t try to get to “Z” and skip “A” through “Y”. That will overwhelm your team and lead to all around frustration. To achieve your final goal, develop a timeline with smaller, actionable goals along with way.
To build buy-in, position some “low-hanging” wins early on. Small, quick wins will build up momentum for the bigger challenges ahead.
2) Your team hasn’t bought in:
If your team isn’t invested in your change initiative, it’s probably going to fail. At best you’ll need to work harder to convince your staff members about the project’s value; at worst you’ll encounter open sabotage.
Be open every step of the way. Try to be sensitive about the things which you may not think about very often but are foremost on their minds, like job security and the anxiety of new technologies. As excited as you are, they’re equally nervous that you’ll start this and then dump on their shoulders to execute.
Make yourself available by not just opening your door, but coming out of the office and spending informal, casual time in the hallways and break rooms. As anyone who attends conferences regularly will tell you, the “real work” happens in informal settings.
3) Poor planning:
Planning your change initiative is a balancing act. On the one side, you want to line up actionable goals and give the team some quick initial wins. On the other hand, meticulously planning every step can lead to paralysis.
Barriers will happen, and timelines will change. You’ll have to adapt your plan, and then adapt it again. While your planning needs to be about the details, make sure to leave room to learn from your results, improve and repeat as you go.
4) Lack of sustained commitment:
We all love starting new projects. The idealism creates a sense of excitement that seems to push the project forward on its own. It’s a great feeling, but even as we embrace it we need to know that after the excitement comes the work.
For your change initiative to succeed, leadership needs to be committed to change not just the business’s processes, but its culture. Managers need to engage stakeholders for their ideas and feedback, both positive and negative. Effective change isn’t something that you can “get the ball rolling” on and go back to your office.
5) Expecting Instant Success:
The path to effective change is neither linear nor always upward. Most change initiatives follow a “curve”, a pattern wherein morale starts high then dips dramatically as initial momentum wanes and the real work begins. You’re bound to expect a period of anxiety and uncertainty in the project; it’s very normal.
Achieving change that lasts over the long haul takes time. You’ll encounter barriers you didn’t think you would, have frustrations you didn’t think you’d have, and your team will look to you to show vision when it matters most.