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Why Change Management Strategies Fail

Why Change Management Strategies Fail

You were looking forward to a better future. Your strategy was flawless. The opportunity and benefits were apparent.

So why didn’t your team just continue to make the darn changes?

Why Change Initiatives FailI lifted this question from a LinkedIn discussion about challenges during change initiatives:

Q: What are the necessary actions that compel direct reports to think differently?


Wouldn’t it be convenient if there was a switch you could flip?

Why Change Management Strategies aren’t Enough

I empathize with the frustration…so much to do…so little time. Why can’t people just do what you tell them? What about accountability for executing the plan?

People challenges are not effectively addressed with prescriptive solutions…your situational leadership, emotional intelligence and good communication skills are needed.

Leaders invest thousands of hours mastering business skills, six sigma process and systems, compensation and incentive plans, strategy, etc., with little time invested on using good people skills. It’s a process, not an event for sure. People are not one size fits all…each responds differently depending on many factors.

Accountability and change

People don’t change for one of two reasons:

  1. they can’t
  2. or they won’t.

Accountability can help if the issue is people who won’t change…but what about those who are having difficulty?

Trying to compel people to think and behave differently is not sustainable.

If you are charged with leading an innovation initiative where team members are not cooperating, here are some general leadership observations I’d encourage you to start with. It’s not a complete list… but it is a good mental checklist to get you thinking about change from your team member’s point of view:

  1. Do they suffer from change fatigue? Trying to change too much at once?
  2. Do you acknowledge and celebrate small wins as you go to sustain enthusiasm for momentum?
  3. Fear can be an impediment to change…what are they afraid of?
  4. Is there a foundation of trust or are people hesitant to ask questions? Are you assuming or do you know for certain?
  5. How much listening are you doing? Have you taken time to air concerns? How do you handle disagreements, difference of opinion?
  6. Have you talked about setting priorities? What options do they have for setting aside less important tasks while absorbing new learning?
  7. Are people empowered to use their discretion in problem solving? What has happened in the past if someone stepped forward and took initiative…but made an error?
  8. How in tune are you with each individual team member’s motivation? What’s in it for them? (intrinsic motivators are different for individual people. This is where leaders who us their emotional intelligence and communicate well with their team members have an edge)
  9. Do you have a core of individuals who love challenge and learning who can lead by example?
  10. Are there tools missing that would make it easier?
  11. Are they getting enough breathing space or down time to recharge?

The irony here?

Many of these same factors make it hard for you to invest your mental energy doing what it takes to lead your team members through change.

Give yourself a break and take time to recharge before going at it again.


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