In recent years change in the business environment has become a way of life. Gone are the days when individuals could expect to work in the same business, under the same ownership, with the same people, and the same customer base for the whole of their career. Everyone is impacted by change. As the degree of change increases, people who manage others, no matter what their title, are in a position to influence the process and outcomes of change.
Most organizational change efforts take longer and cost more money than leaders and managers anticipate. In fact, research shows that 70% of all transformations fail.
A weak culture that isn’t aligned with the mission, lack of participation and buy-in, under-communicating a powerful vision, over-communicating a poor vision, not enough training or resources, and so on. But one very critical roadblock standing in the way of bringing a change is what is called as change battle fatigue.
Change battle fatigue is the result of many elements such as past failures plaguing the minds of employees and the sacrifices made during the arduous change process. When a transformation is poorly led, fatigue can set in quickly. Hence people often get discouraged and eventually give up. Even when companies make great strides during building a change culture and preparing for the change battle, fatigue can derail even the most valiant efforts for change.
When change efforts have failed in the past, people often grow cynical. They start to mutter under their breath, “Here we go again” or “Here comes another flavour of the month.” or, as one middle manager once told me, “We’re lying low until this fad blows over.”
Four conditions for changing mind-sets
Employees will alter their mind-sets only if they see the point of the change and agree with it. The surrounding structures (reward and recognition systems, for example) must be in tune with the new behavior. Employees must have the skills to do what it requires. Finally, they must see people they respect. Each of these conditions is realized independently together they add up to a way of changing the behavior of people in organizations by changing attitudes.
A purpose to believe in
Anyone leading a major change program must take the time to think through its "story"—what makes it worth undertaking—and to explain that story to all of the people involved in making change happen, so that their contributions make sense to them as individuals.
Organizational designers broadly agree that reporting structures, management and operational processes, and measurement procedures—setting targets, measuring performance, and granting financial and non financial rewards—must be consistent with the behaviour that people are asked to embrace. When a company’s goals for new behaviour are not reinforced, employees are less likely to adopt it consistently; if managers are urged to spend more time coaching junior staff, for instance, but coaching doesn’t figure in the performance scorecards of managers, they are not likely to bother.
The skills required for change
How adults best be equipped with the skills they need to make relevant changes in behaviour? First, give them time. This means that you can’t teach everything there is to know about a subject in one session, better to break down the formal teaching into chunks, with time for the learners to reflect, experiment, and apply the new principles. Large-scale change happens only in steps.
Consistent role models
In organizations, people model their behaviour on "significant others" those they see in positions of influence. People in different functions or levels choose different role models—a founding partner, trade union representative, or the highest-earning sales rep. So to change behaviour, it isn’t enough to ensure that people at the top are in line with the new ways of working, role models at every level must "walk the talk."
It is neither easy nor straightforward to improve a company’s performance through a comprehensive program to change the behaviour of employees by changing their mind-sets. No company should try to do so without first exhausting less disruptive alternatives for attaining the business outcomes. Sometimes tactical moves will be enough, new practices can be introduced without completely rethinking the corporate culture. But if the only way for a company to reach a higher plane of performance is to alter the way its people think and act, it will need to create the above conditions for achieving sustained change.
We at Employwise help you with such initiatives in becoming an evolved and vibrant workplace by breaking the functional silos.