Effective Change Management
Successful Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma or any Operational Excellence initiative cannot be achieved without effective Change Management. In today’s fast-paced environment where businesses are conducted “at the speed of thought’ (as Bill Gates once observed), change is often met with much resistance from employees. According to the book Beyond the Wall of Resistance by Rick Maurer, 70% of organisational change attempts fail.
Why is there such a high failure rate for organisational change efforts and what can organisations do to avoid it? The key reasons are discussed below:
Lack of Communication
While management will communicate what the change is or what it should look like, they often fail to communicate why the change is needed. The number 1 reason why organisational change fails is because the case for making a change is not adequately articulated to employees, and hence, is never fully embraced. In fact, a recent study found that only 40% of front-line supervisors felt they were “getting the message” about the reasons behind major organisational shake-ups, which means that the other 60% of employees are in the dark.
If management articulates a clear, positive vision for the future and explain why that change is necessary, the chances are much higher that the desired change will be embraced.
Implementing any change in the organisation requires careful thinking and planning. If the change is entered into too hastily or without any proper planning, a likely outcome will be a false start, resistance, and most likely eventual failure.
Employees may resist change due to ego and self-interest. Without fully understanding why a change is needed, some employees may feel threatened by it and will resist it out of perceived self-interest.
Employees who feel alienated or excluded may also resist change. If, for example, the change is a top-down dictate where they had no real chance to give their input, the result will likely be employees who do not own the change and therefore resist it.
Lack of Leadership
It is necessary for management to create an atmosphere where employees buy into the new corporate vision. But if employees feel alienated or otherwise do not trust the management, getting them to buy into any new direction will be quite difficult.
Lack of Commitment
If organisations really want to create a change, the leadership has to be 100% committed. Once the leadership is fully committed, the same commitment should be expected of everyone in organisation. The desired change must be considered a rule and not an option.
Success requires that organisations give their employees a means and process for implementing the desired change, otherwise their natural reaction to resist change will persist.
As author Rick Maurer put it, most people react to change by putting up a wall of protection. It is the responsibility of the leader in an organisation to engage with those people so they truly understand why the change is needed.
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