Change Management Pitfalls

Navigating the Pitfalls of Change Management

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In today’s complex world, the ability to lead through change has become a business imperative.

But, according to a recent study in the Harvard Business Review, there is still a high degree of uncertainty that exists with large-scale transformation. While more than 80% of executives at large enterprises recognize the need for transformation, only 33% are confident they can get the job done in five to ten years. In order for leaders to increase their chances of success, they must have the foresight to recognize and anticipate the common pitfalls to change management. By understanding the foreseeable challenges, they are able to create a plan of action that takes into account both the needs of the organization, as well as, the people involved in implementing it.

As a business partner working collaboratively with leaders navigating the challenges of change management, we have identified some of the common pitfalls that stall momentum:

  • Employing Polarized Strategies That Are Too Extreme. Sometimes the leader in charge of designing and leading transformation can be tone deaf to the unique needs of team members, which ultimately breeds resentment. Other times, they can become overly sensitive or bogged down in minutiae, resulting in “micro-accommodations” that draw out timelines and execution.
  • Inability To Integrate A Shared Vision For Change. Each person’s idea and ideal of change is different. It will likely look different to an engineer than a product owner, designer or executive sponsor. What’s more, there will be nuances in interpretation based on whether or not someone is a manager or an individual contributor. It’s very important to achieve a shared vision for the change. Not just the end goal, but the means, methods, and impacts, as well.
  • Lack of focus on people, specifically effective communication and buy-in. Train the leaders in change management to develop a culture of challenging the status quo within the organization. Be prepared to have multiple strategies to support the various needs of the business and the people in it.
  • Surviving Without Thriving. It’s easy to forget the greater good when focusing on one’s personal needs. Studies have shown that being able to survive and thrive amidst change is an important part of being professionally productive, but also — being human. Welcome the change and better yet, be an active participant in shaping the ultimate outcome instead of passively accepting what’s to come.
  • Procrastination In Decision Making. You’ve done the prep work, the plan is ready and still you wait until the perfect moment. If the change will impact you in a dramatic way, don’t wait for the last minute because you assume you still have plenty of time to make a decision. Before you know it, you’ll be saddled with the added stress and limited options that come when you procrastinate in making a decision. Better to activate the plan and learn from the results, good or bad.
  • Not Acknowledging The Growth Of The Journey. Challenging journeys often lead to the most transformative growth. Taking the time to pause and reflect on the journey is a powerful way to influence the attitudes of individuals and teams.

Regardless of where our clients are in the process, we can play a significant role by listening, staying flexible and holding steady in times of change. If they are distracted or disengaged, we can serve as a stabilizing force that helps them deliver the tasks at hand. If they are feeling anger or frustration, we can become a trusted advisor that listens and empathizes intently. If they are feeling optimistic and excited for the future, we can become their biggest supporter and advocate.

Whatever the client’s needs are, a true partner knows when to lead, when to follow, and when to serve as a catalyst to propel them forward.

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