While transformational change is underway nearly all the time in our workplaces, research shows that a staggering 50-70 percent of the supporting change initiatives fall short.
There are many reasons why workplace change initiatives fail. Our change communications consultants at Evo have seen one factor come up time after time: inadequate change leadership.
When it comes to the person leading a company through change, choosing the right individual and setting them up for success is just as critical as the brilliance of the implemented solution.
Here are three Ts to help identify and support the right change leader within your own organization.
The effective change leader has “street cred” — their past actions must have already won them a degree of respect from influencers within your organization. The leader will be most successful by visibly demonstrating their personal investment of time and focus on the change. It’s important to take time to observe the change impacts from the perspective of the most affected people in the organization. Equally critical, the change leader must be comfortable acknowledging whatever may not working, and then visibly adjust the plan. Stay humble and honest, while staying on track.
Often, the change leader does not need to have the biggest title. This may be a chance for C-Suite leaders to support the growth of a future top executive. Pivotal moments like these may create the ideal environment for a growing leader to demonstrate their ability to rise higher. However, the person with the most senior title still carries an important responsibility. She or he can exponentially increase the success of the change by consistently supporting and empowering the appointed change leader in their role.
Transformational change is usually high stakes and high cost. Leading the change is not a “tack on” responsibility to a full-time role. To be successful, capacity must exist — or be created — in the change leader’s schedule, just like any core job responsibility. Co-leadership is not a viable solution to compensate for a lack of time and resources, more often it creates confusion and puts your project at risk. Allocating time to change leadership and communication doesn’t end when the change launches, but continues on for months afterward. The goal is to ensure that all the hard work put in by the team is sustained. Stay with it. Change leaders often walk away too soon. Spend time documenting and communicating the most significant benefits and the lessons learned. By sustaining post-change communication you will give your organization a story to take pride in and draw inspiration from when it's time to adapt again to the next big change.