4 Tips On How to Introduce and Lead Successful Change

a business woman follows an arrow that curves to the right

When change is afoot, be sure you plan well.

Our two decades in the field of change management consulting have shown us how critical it is to lay the groundwork for change before you announce it to your workforce. Successful change involves not only the operational side but also the people side; and it is the people side of change that so many companies neglect and why so many efforts at change fail.

Studies report that as many as 50% to 70% of change initiatives are unsuccessful…an astounding statistic. It means that at least half of the changes begun are changes that never cross the finish line. Organizations seem to focus more on how to manage what needs to be done rather than explaining why it needs to be accomplished. If you really need and want to set a new direction for your company, you had better pay attention to the feelings of those you expect to implement it…your employees.

Here are a few tips on how to introduce and lead change so that you are far more likely to be in the right half of the change statistics:

  • Understand that there is a natural resistance to change. Most everyone prefers the comfort and familiarity of the status quo. Smart change leaders know that employees will not easily give up what is familiar or what has worked for them in the past. Acknowledge what they value from the past while, at the same time, inspiring them with a clear and compelling vision of the future. Give them the time and space to absorb why change needs to happen and be available to answer their questions and discuss their concerns.

  • Recognize that change is a process. It won’t happen overnight. Employees may need to learn new skills and behaviors. These will need to be taught, coached, modeled, measured and rewarded as the behaviors are applied on the job. There will be a learning curve…and perhaps a bumpy one. Just keep track of progress and celebrate it as you continue to move in the right direction.

  • Paint the picture in a compelling way. The better the workforce understands what the future holds for them, the sooner they will commit to your vision of change. This is your opportunity to use all your powers of persuasion to bring employees to your understanding of why change is needed to secure a brighter future for everyone.

  • Build resilience. Change is hard. There will be uncertainty, additional stress and, no doubt, many setbacks. Prepare yourself and your employees to expect and deal with the difficulties in a healthy way. Support your folks through the trials and tribulations of change. When you are able to handle the downside of change, you deserve to celebrate the upside. 

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