Change is the only thing that is constant. It is part of every organization. We need to manage it in a structured way to guide and support employees through the process of constant change.
Managing organizational change is all about getting people onboard, overcoming their resistance to change and increasing their commitment to the organization. A well-managed process of change presents an immense opportunity. According to one Gartner study, only one-third of change initiatives succeed, meaning the vast majority of organizational change initiatives fail to achieve their goals.
Following are some of the key reasons why change management initiatives fail –
- Absence of effective leadership
- Lack of accountability
- Gaps in communication
- Poor planning
- Project not defined properly
- Addressing the wrong concerns
- Inability to address employee feedback
What does sustainability of change management mean for an organization?
As a universal concept, sustainability means maintaining a process or initiative at a specific rate or level for a stipulated period. When we talk about sustainability in change management, it is about achieving both the financial and the environmentally sustainable momentum of business changes.
Organizational culture is a critical success factor for sustaining change in an organization because resistance to change is a bottleneck to future success. Organizational culture can be defined as a collection of values, expectations and practices that guide and inform the actions of all members – a collection of traits that makes an organization what it is. If the culture of an organization is amenable to change, so are the employees.
There are four essential steps to achieving the desired results from transformation efforts and investments to sustain change management.
- Evaluation – Calculating the risks and barriers
- Action Planning – Designing a roadmap
- Communication – Spreading awareness about the change
- Training – Managing and educating teams
These steps make change easy to comprehend and more relatable for employees when followed assiduously. Usually, organizations design too many initiatives for the employees, without paying due attention to system and process adoption while planning for change.
For changes to be sustainable, reinforcement of the critical processes, activities and messages should be designed for easy user adoption. Top employees must be identified and appointed as change agents to share their success stories for peer learning. Adoption accelerates when these change agents tell others how the new system and process makes their role efficient.
The speed of change adoption is directly proportional to the incentives it offers for those who embrace it. It is readily embraced when it provides a challenge and opportunities for personal growth, reduces boredom, and ensures collective participation in realizing business results.
Change is a journey. If employees suffer from change fatigue, their interest in change adoption will naturally decline. In my experience, change fatigue is a state where employees get tired of the recurring change initiatives rolled out by the organization. This causes frustration and confusion among employees and the organization faces consequences like:
- Reduced work efficiency due to lack of focus
- Absenteeism, where employees’ excessive time off results in low productivity
- Higher turnover rate
- Failure to build and sustain momentum
- Loss in revenue
How do you manage change fatigue?
The following can go a long way in managing change fatigue.
- Focus on gathering feedback directly from employees
- Measure the rate of success of change over a predefined period of time
- Create trust and cohesion in the team as they reduce the risk of change fatigue
Once we address change fatigue properly, it brings sustainability to the change management process by attracting and engaging more employees on the change journey.
The most conducive culture for change management ensures continuous learning and transparent communication among the employees. It helps them through the transition journey from the current state to the one desired.
Why are continuous learning and transparent communication critical to change management success?
- Creates a mindset that is open to growth, helping employees to innovate
- Provides clarity of roles and responsibilities and enables employees to learn a new process
- Helps people gain knowledge and develop new skills, so they can achieve their learning goals
- Aligns employees with the organization’s vision, providing a shared understanding
Organizations are increasing their focus on sustained change management today. The best method is to take baby steps. When organizations are able to seamlessly adjust to small changes, they are better positioned to plan for more extensive changes. Making changes slowly and purposefully can easily sustain long-term change management.
Bristlecone believes in the principle of ‘continuous improvement’ as it aligns to a structured approach to promote excellence in pursuit of business goals using ‘The Mahindra Way.’ Our change management framework is based on a strong foundation of reinforcing change and embedding it in the ‘New Way of Working’ mindset.