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The 5 Mistakes Companies Often Make When Managing Change

The 5 Mistakes Companies Often Make When Managing Change

The one constant we can rely on today is change. Everything around us is changing. However, most leaders simply do not want to talk about it. As it’s deemed to be too “disruptive” to the company and the workforce. Instead, we are asked to play down or sugar coat the change by labeling it something it is not. Truth is, recognizing and discussing change is completely necessary.

Because change is such a taboo subject, companies and organizations are prone to making mistakes when managing it, which can affect their well being. To help prevent further mistakes, I’ve prepared a list of the 5 most common mistakes made when managing change:

Mistake 1: Calling “Change” Something Else

The first mistake is the easiest to correct. Call “change” what it is…change! And, explain what the change is expected to mean to the organization in the short, medium, and long term. People are more accepting of change when they understand the rationale and impact of it—even if it is perceived to be bad. When leaders don’t sound the alarm and tell the full story of change, it will invariably impact the organization in a negative way.

Mistake 2: “Change the People” or “Change the People

As leaders, we have the ability and responsibility to “change the people” or “change the people.” Pretty simple, but we often forget the first change the people or the second change the people. When we are intentional about changing the people with defined expectations, communications, and systems of support, we are able to impact the majority of the workforce. There are times that we must make changes that negatively affect people, but positively impact the whole of the organization.

Mistake 3: Forgetting the Human Element of Change.

Companies don’t react to change–people do. It is why focusing on understanding and addressing the human element is so critical. Our companies are made up of people and people are complicated and emotional—even in the business setting. We have long accepted the fact that business IS personal. And, thus, we must address the human element with honesty and concern throughout every element of the process.

Mistake 4: Setting Unrealistic Timelines and Expectations.

Change requires a commitment to strategic patience. Too often, unrealistic timelines and expectations are established for when change will be complete to appease boards, management, shareholders and even employees (who just want it to be over). It is a much better practice to add time to the change effort. Change is rarely realized after something is rolled out once. It takes time for people to begin to hear, understand, and ultimately adapt to new processes and build routines around them. It is important to set clear timelines and expectations around every element of the change – let the employee filter whatever he/she doesn’t think is relevant.

Mistake 5: Communicating Your Way Out of Change.

Simply communicating change is not the answer. Communication is important, but genuinely and honestly engaging leaders, and the workforce, around the reasons for change and the real impact of it is crucial for its acceptance. Too many people try to hide the downside of change from the employees—but the reality is that everything is knowable, and your employees are likely to be the first ones to find it out. When we are open and transparent, we create a more psychologically safe environment that encourages trust and employee voice.

Originally published on Quora.

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