5 Common Mistakes That Block Organisational Change
Are you planning to introduce a new process or strategy into your business? In that case, it’s essential to get your employees on board with your change.
Failing to do this means that change implementation will either be slowed down dramatically or will fail completely.
While most leaders understand that effective communication is the foundation for introducing change successfully, few understand the full implications of this, and as a result often get it wrong.
Here we list the most common mistakes that undermine the process of change communication. Make sure to avoid these mistakes if you want to implement effective change management.
1. Assuming that your employees agree with you on everything
Unfortunately, many leaders aren’t aware of what their employees really think. This can be for many reasons, but it’s important to be aware of this, no matter how well you think you know your employees.
If you want to know what your employees really think, you’ll have to take the time to listen to them. Many won’t tell you right away, so you need to make them feel safe, and give them regular opportunities to share their perspective.
If your company has a pyramidal hierarchy, it’s also likely that staff members at the lower levels aren’t going to open up easily to top-level executives. In that case, give them the opportunity to share their perspective with mid-level managers, and then take the time to learn what you can from the mid-level managers.
This process is essential for change management since you need to be certain that most of your staff members are on board with your new ideas if you want to move ahead with implementation.
2. Telling your employees as little as possible
If you plan to introduce big changes, you should tell your team the whole story, including the background and the purpose of the change. Also tell them what you expect the company to gain from your plans, both in the short-term and the long-term.
If you don’t share the big picture with your employees, you can’t expect them to take responsibility for it.
Also, if you don’t give them the whole picture, your employees don’t really understand why they are being asked to do something.
In most cases that means they won’t be fully committed to the success of your change, which could be enough to block its success.
3. Expecting your employees’ full support simply because they are on your payroll
A truly great company is built by highly committed and motivated employees, who take full responsibility for the success of their company, its brand, and its mission.
This is very different from a business in which employees do what is expected of them, but aren’t fully supportive of their company. A company built on that kind of commitment is likely destined for mediocrity.
So, if you want to build an organisation that is truly great, you need to make sure your employees are really convinced by your vision, which makes it much more likely they can be won to support your change initiatives.
Of course, this means you have to be willing to make the effort to convince them, and to win their support, instead of just informing them of your plans.
4. Failing to explain your ideas appropriately
Some leaders don’t want to keep their employees in the dark but are simply not very good at communicating with ‘average’ people.
While abstract concepts, dry numbers, and complicated graphs are great when talking to executives and business analysts, they don’t work so well when communicating with average employees and trying to convince them of the underlying value of a planned change.
It’s okay to add some theory and data when presenting your ideas to your workforce, but the main content of your message should be in simple human language that appeals to the feelings of your employees.
Essentially, you want to make them feel good about the change you’re trying to introduce, and you have to use the right language for that: language that appeals to the emotions, instead of being purely functional.
5. Avoiding discussion of difficult subjects
When you have a vision for change, it’s common not to have all the answers right away. Many leaders avoid sharing their ideas until they are more advanced, and most of the difficult questions can be answered.
However, it can be extremely beneficial to share a fresh vision with your workforce at an early stage and then invite them to help work out the details.
That way the implementation of the change can be co-created with your employees, which is a great way to get people on board with your ideas right from the start.
Some change discussions are difficult for other reasons. Maybe your plans are likely to cause redundancy for some employees or even for whole teams.
Even in those cases it’s better to seek open discussion, instead of avoiding the subject, since you want everyone to know you are willing to deal with the consequences.
Have you made any of the mistakes listed above? If yes, you’re definitely not the only one.
While these mistakes are unfortunately very common, they can be easily corrected once you understand the importance of communicating appropriately and effectively, to win your workforce over to your side whenever you plan to introduce change.