Common Mistakes in Change Management

Change management consulting is emerging as a standalone industry. This is the consequence growing competition-driven pressure for businesses to commit to the adoption of new enterprise resource planning (ERP) and a high rate of failure for businesses undergoing major changes.

These are some of the most common mistakes that lead changing corporations to failure.

Unanticipated Resistance to Change

It is irresponsible not to plan for resistance to corporate change. Adopting a new system and work flow will impose a learning curve on some long-standing employees. Personnel will need to change their habits.

This extra expenditure of energy and resources will prompt protest and resistance to change.

What You Can Do

Instead of proceeding haphazardly in the face of resistance, plan accordingly for hiccups in your corporate overhaul.

Minimize resistance by building anticipation for coming changes well in advance. Then, deliberately deliver changes incrementally in well-defined steps. These shouldn’t be “baby steps,” but major-yet-manageable steps towards your goal. Anticipate each step with a thorough plan that addresses the needs of each department and employee.

This will minimize surprises and give employees sufficient time to prepare themselves for change.

Be prepared to replace staff. Unfortunately, some employees will resist change to the point of termination. You may lose some important people. This is a painful but necessary sacrifice. Change is not easy.

Inconsistent Execution of Your Plan

Once you’ve established and communicated your phases of the change process, it is crucial to stick to them.

Discouraging results and hiccups will appear through every phase of your change campaign. If you let these halt progress, the entire campaign risks appearing weak. This can strengthen the voice of resistance within the organization and create more problems. This snowball effect of negativity starts with just one instance of delay.

What You Can Do

Sometimes, your plan sets unrealistic goals. You may be too busy addressing issues from the previous increment to execute the next on time.

If sticking to your plan is indeed impossible, you need to revise your original plan to reflect reality. Distribute a memo with an updated plan and discuss the specifics of what is holding progress back. Meet with management to discuss the setbacks. Do this before any deadlines actually pass.

Don’t let any key dates slip through the cracks. This will keep everybody on track.

Failure to Address Culture

Your company already has a well-established culture and migration will disrupt that culture. All too often, companies fail to survive corporate overhauls because of a stubborn and deep-rooted incumbent culture that cannot accept the changes you’re making.

What You Can Do

You must take an accurate account of the current company culture, visualize the ideal post-migration corporate culture, and find a path to get there. A part of that process will be increasing cultural agility and adaptability.

An accurate view of your true corporate culture is difficult to get from the top of that structure. That is why you need to get middle managers and team members involved in the culture change.

Sometimes, relics of outgoing company culture can be toxic. Seek out, address, and if necessary remove toxic individuals. Usually negative perceptions of culture change are born closer to the bottom of the corporate structure, so you must keep a strong connection through every level of management with all members of the organization.


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