Change management is about bringing order to deconstruction and reconstruction.
It’s also about understanding the people and processes, how they need to change, and what you can do to bring them on the journey.
That can be tricky when you’re dealing with complexity and a large number of stakeholders. And if you’ve ever tried to drive change in those sorts of circumstances, you’ll know that change managers are likely to hit some speed bumps or even make mistakes along the way. Many people come away with lessons they wish they had known before starting the project, and the same is true for me.
So here are some of the most common change management pitfalls — and how to get around them.
Being afraid of failure
- Learn from your mistakes, so that you can address these in the next project. One of the things that I often explore in the early stages of a project is a bloopers reel of things that went wrong in previous projects. This gives a chance to bring problems into the open and forms a very real and contextualised framework from which to build training.
- In the beginning of the process, allow the team to go into detail on the issues they encountered – and really listen, as these can be system changes, team dynamics or lack of buy-in from leaders.
Thinking you know all the answers
- To make any change work, you need input and perspectives from everyone impacted, from the client side to the technology team. We have to discover ways to find solutions to new problems and to prioritise the problems to be solved.
- Find a way to meet in the middle, and ask for the perspectives of impacted stakeholders and members of your team – these are people with a wealth of experience, who often will be most impacted by new changes and may even be able to tell you why past changes didn’t work. You will leverage that experience in later stages such as during training.
- Be willing to share your draft ideas with your team, so that you can develop solutions that meet the needs from many perspectives. This means letting go of perfectionism and welcoming feedback.
Focusing too much on the change champions and neglecting the sceptics
- Many people focus purely on the champions of the change and are less willing to have difficult conversations with the challengers. It’s easy to gravitate toward people who already agree with us! But the risk is that you could be missing out on vital project feedback that might genuinely improve outcomes.
- Plus, negative back channelling can have a powerful impact on overall adoption. The problem with this gossip is that it is unseen and therefore hard to address, but detractors can help you to uncover key blocks in the process. Working in partnership with these stakeholders – and earning their trust – brings concerns out of the shadows and into open discussion. And that means you’re more likely to nip issues in the bud and bring everyone along on the ride.
Not keeping open lines of communication or making the process open-source
- In order to succeed in your transformation project, you can’t hoard failures and successes. Be more collaborative from start to finish, and include your team in the ideas stage through to implementation and testing.
- Open up the communication to allow everyone to see the process at every stage. And don’t be afraid to make sure people hear about wins from time to time – it’s not bragging, it’s actually an important part of the change management process!
Thinking this is a technology change project
- Yes, you are implementing a new technology solution, or redesigning your business process, but it is for the benefit of people. And you need to bring people along the journey.
- Firstly you need empathy to understand what the true problem is you are trying to solve. If you think you are designing technology, you forget to ask if this works for others.
- Change management is the vital nexus between the technology and the users. You have to find a way to deliver technology to the client, and to decode the client’s needs to the developers. Work with the strengths of both sides. This will also feed into all of your training efforts as you will need to consider training in a holistic way that includes business processes.
Assuming users will embrace the technology quickly
- Yes, this project will streamline many of your system issues and give you a much better view of your business.
- Training your employees to learn to use the system is the best way to drive adoption as it gains momentum from user confidence.
- Tell me, show me, let me do. This idea helps you to tailor your project to address users’ contexts.
Thinking you’ve heard it all before
- The greatest asset is to be able to approach every conversation with openness. With curiosity, to learn something new.
- Be honest with what you don’t know and propose that you learn together- this has helped me a lot, especially building up my trust quotient across so many different types of change audiences.
Change management is one of the most critical factors in truly transforming parts of your business. Want to make sure your project is set up for success and that you’re bringing users along the journey? Simplus Advisory services can help.