Common Pitfalls in Change Implementation
How often have we heard that change is inevitable? Industries, technologies, and customer preferences are ever-changing and evolving, and these factors can have a significant impact on internal operations. Being responsible for change management can take a lot of hard work and preparation. As a leader, it’s not only your job to communicate major changes, but you also need to help your team navigate through them. If you have been looking for new leadership skills to pick up to aid in change management or strengthen your skills, you aren’t alone. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing change, we can learn and grow from common mistakes. This article explores a few pitfalls that await leaders in the change management process and how they can overcome them.
Dictating Change Over Employee Engagement
As nice as it would be to be able to snap our fingers and make change magically happen, it just doesn’t work that way. Change management is not simply about instituting change into motion. It’s about making sure that change is achievable and that everyone is on board with it. Instead of demanding change, a top-down approach that can make the process more difficult, focus on a bottom-up approach to secure employee buy-in.
Tips for Engagement:
Avoid rapid change because “people react to change in phases, similar to the stages of grief.” Instead, consider a more systematic approach that enables employees to adapt and accept change.
Explain the benefits to employees and how change can create value and help them and the organization long-term.
Don’t forget to communicate with your team regularly. Inefficient communication is the primary problem when it comes to leading employees through the change management process.
Believing it is Common Sense
The common sense trap is easy to fall into. You can assume that since you see the value of change, everyone does. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and can lead to significant problems with the change management process.
Tips for Connecting:
Your leadership role requires you to have foresight and see the impact of change across multiple areas within your organization. Clearly define the value of this change to all areas involved.
Don’t downplay the impact of the change. While this may be simple for you, it may be complex for your team. Remember, not everyone “gets it” and your change management process needs to be understood throughout the ranks.
Explain the steps that will be needed to implement change and be empathetic with employees who perceive they may be losing something in the change process.
Ignoring the Root Cause of Resistance
It isn’t always easy to deal with resistance. While every change process has its unique challenges and growing pains, the reality is that change finds resistance for different reasons. So don’t just assume that employees are resisting change because they are disengaged or difficult employees. Listen to their concerns and help to move the process along.
Tips for Overcoming Resistance:
As a leader, get curious about the sources of resistance.
Look out for obvious pain points that your employees are experiencing. Ask for feedback from affected team members to make the change process more manageable and adapt when necessary.
Be aware when a change process is simply not working and pivot as quickly as possible. However, don’t fall into the trap of escalation of commitment, continuing on a failing course of action, and recognize when to make adjustments to achieve the best possible results.
The change management process is not always simple, but it can be effectively managed. As long as you remain aware and work with your employees, you will find that change can be a wonderful growing experience for your team. Brush up on some of your more empathetic leadership skills and take the time to listen to your team. By working together with your team members, you will be able to reach the benefits that your new change can bring!
Take a moment to reflect on the change you are trying to implement within your organization. Are you falling into any of the pitfalls we’ve just discussed?
If so, email us at email@example.com to schedule a meeting with us to learn more about our 4-module Change Management training for practitioners. Organizational change management is a complex process that requires careful planning and strategy execution. Leader Essentials Group can provide you with a detailed framework for implementing strategic initiatives, with a focus on internal branding and gaining employee buy-in.
Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, and leadership. Over ten years of teaching experience as a university professor of management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.
_________________________________________________________________________  Forbes (2018). Council post: 15 change management mistakes you're probably making. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/05/23/15-change-management-mistakes-youre-probably-making/.  Fuller, J., & Theofilou, B. (2021). Are Your Managers in Sync with Your Change Strategy? Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/03/are-your-managers-in-sync-with-your-change-strategy.