By David Miller , CEO, Changefirst
84 per cent of respondents from a Changefirst survey(1), said that from their business experience, engaging and empowering internal teams was the best and most cost-effective way to successfully implement major change. This data is supported by 2012 data from the Project Management Institute (PMI) that reports that 88% of the most effective organisations they surveyed had established formal change management processes within their organisations. This compared with 26% in the minimally effective organisations they surveyed.
This finding is further reinforced by the 2013 IBM Global CEO Survey, which canvassed the opinions of over 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries. IBM’s results reveal that CEOs have enhanced their definition of “work” in today’s enterprises. An additional component is a “powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has traditionally characterised the corporate structure.” In other words, benefits realisation for change initiatives will have optimum success if the organisation engages and empowers individuals within the entity to deliver the outcomes.
If we look at the organisations that are least effective at implementing change we regularly see symptoms that organisations are currently struggling to cope with the sheer volume and complexity of change. This problem frequently manifests itself at different levels of the organisation. For example:
1. Executives often appear to have little time to track and reinforce initiatives once the strategy is announced and spend minimal or no time on reviewing, coaching and leading staff accountable for implementation planning. Having insufficient time, they delegate the execution of key initiatives to mid-level programme managers and other staff support groups. This in turn means that leadership for the change initiative is diluted or absent. Inevitably the change initiative loses urgency, momentum and credibility for those touched by the change.
2. Managers can feel overwhelmed with the number of initiatives impacting them. They often need to grapple with executing the change in their function or business unit whilst at the same time dealing with the personal impact of the change on themselves and their teams. In our experience, managers are frequently unskilled in leading change and lack role models who can provide them with assistance and support. They can feel deeply ‘out of control’.
3. Front-line employees see numerous initiatives required from them. These appear to be ‘mandated from the top’. In addition to the description above about the impact of change for an organisation’s manager community, front line staff feel a similar and real sense that they are not in control. For this group it appears that the change is being ‘done to them’. A negative side-effect of this scenario is that front line staff consistently report low levels of employee engagement to the frequent surprise of Executives.
The big, negative pay-off for all of this is that frequently, key business initiatives are installed but not fully implemented. This means that the new process, technology or structure has been put in place, usually on time, to scope and budget. However, the benefits of the project have not been realised nor the ROI achieved. Our investigations about this shortfall reveal a pattern – some support is given to the project for basic technical training, one-way communications with impacted employees and there are usually some penalties for non-compliance.
The missing link is the attention and planning to ensure that the people impacted by the change have been engaged to the point where they have the necessary commitment and display the appropriate behaviours for the change to be successful.
To find out more download our free paper – A C-Suite Guide to Building Organisational Change Management Capabilities.
(1) 2011 Changefirst survey of over 2,000 change leaders