Have you ever been part of an initiative to make a change and it fell apart, did not last very long or was not enforced (so no one actually did it)? Silly me, right? Of course you have! We all have! Change is not easy. It is something that organizations have been trying to do forever and most have not found anything that works.
- Change it but don’t say it. It’s hard enough for people to experience change but to make a change and not tell them about it is even worse. Ask employees for their feedback, include them in the change and inform them throughout the process.
- Say it but don’t change it. This happens too. Don’t say you’re going to make a change (especially if it’s a positive one) and then not maintain the change. This happens a lot with process improvement initiatives where organizations will make some efficiency changes and then a few months down the road, everyone resorts back to the way they used to do things. This can be frustrating for the staff who put a lot of work in making the improvement changes. Get buy-in and ownership and hold each other accountable.
- Put it in the 3-5-10 Year Plans. The healthcare industry is known for this. Everything is a three, five or ten year plan. Successful transformations can happen in a lot less time than that. What usually happens with the 3-5-10 year plans is that by the time the deadline hits, there are new leaders in charge of the plans who end up making brand new 3-5-10 year plans. Therefore, nothing gets done, everything is a blame game and it becomes the cycle of operations.
- Change it all. Organizations try to change everything at once. When you have too much change going on or too many initiatives in motion, people get confused. You cannot blame them for not buying in when they can’t even understand what is going on. You cannot change everything and expect it to happen quickly.
So, how do we solve this problem of unsuccessful change management? I have one solution and only one solution for you to try. Transform one thing at a time. For example, if you’re trying to shift the culture of an organization to be more team oriented, start with one department or one manager’s team. Survey only that one team, see if you can get to the root of the problem and implement your solutions with them. The problem is not usually with the plans or solutions that people come up with; it’s the fact that they are trying to implement that plan or solution at too large of a scale.