Why Change Management Programs Often Fail ? Some Ways to Actualize Change

We have heard the story several times. A large conglomerate wants to implement a change management program, which it then announces amidst much fanfare and hype. The top leadership waxes eloquent on the need to change and why the organization must actualize change. However, a few years down the line, things are still bad for the company and the change program has bitten the dust. What are the reasons for this? First, there is something called “change fatigue” that sets in when the change being instituted is part of a long string of change management programs that have been going on in the organization. Second, the resistance to change (a topic we discussed at length in previous articles) is the next reason. Third, the employees might have little faith in the top management and the confidence in the management team is at such a situation that the employees do not take anything that the management says seriously.

Therefore, the obvious question is what the management should do to actualize change. First, create an engaged organization where the buy-in for the change is secured deep and wide within the organizational hierarchy. This means that the “Sandwich Layer” of middle management and the key power centers in the organizations are on the same page as the management.

Second, have execution clarity, which means that the top management knows what it wants and how it should go about actualizing change. The message of change must be lucid and coherent and the senior as well as the other layers of management must think through the change process. Third, create a critical mass of “enabled leaders” who would carry through the change and who know what exactly the change entails and how to go about it.

Fourth, the senior management must realize that “in unity lies strength” and hence, must build a cohesive organizational culture that does not fray at the edges or is hollow in the middle. In other words, there needs to be a sense of purpose about the change process and how it must be actualized by all levels of management. Fifth and finally, the Project Management Office and the Governance structures responsible for change must articulate, implement, seek feedback, and close out the change process as well as plug any leakages. The important point to note here is that the PMO must be vested with full powers to implement the change and as happens with economies and politics, governance mechanisms in organizations must not be clogged. In other words, the organizational arteries must be clear and free from appendages. If these elements of the change management process are taken into account, actualizing the change would be relatively easy.

Finally, the whole point of the change program must be to engage with the employees at all levels and ensure that the change management program targets the core of the organizations competencies and vision and mission. In conclusion, change management programs can only succeed when these elements are conjoined together to create a coherent and understandable narrative that the employees can relate to.


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Change Management