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Top 20+ change management 
mistakes to avoid
Mistake - #1 - Starting too late 
• Pressure to act quickly undermines values and culture 
• Leaders take drastic steps quickly with no time to explore 
alternatives 
• Values about participation, involvement, or concern for 
people disappear 
• Cynicism grows 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 2
Mistake - #2 - No winning strategy 
• The best change program in the 
world won’t do any good if your 
organisation doesn’t have a strategy 
for getting where it wants to go 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 3
Mistake - #3 - Fanfare 
• All too often organizations announce big 
changes and new programs with big events 
and fanfare, but then very little actually 
happens 
• The initial energy and enthusiasm fades, 
specific changes are never identified let 
alone implemented, results aren’t realized, 
managers don’t adjust, or maybe something 
even better comes along leading to a new 
“launch” with new fanfare 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 4
Mistake - #4 - Employees hear it from the media first 
• Journalists dig for information, and 
items can run in the media before 
employees hear about them 
• Middle managers look dumb and 
uninformed 
• Employees feel insulted and left 
out 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 5
Mistake - #5 - Failure to make a compelling 
and urgent case for change 
• Failure to create a strong sense of urgency causes a change 
movement to lose momentum before it gets a chance to 
start 
• Establishing a true sense of urgency without creating an 
emergency is the first objective achieved to overcome the 
routine of daily business 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 6
Mistake - #6 - Only focusing on the rational elements 
• Organizational change will be extremely difficult in most 
cases if managers rely only on making a case to the rational, 
analytical, problem-solving side of the brain 
• Instead, they must also make an emotional case for change 
and align the rational and emotional elements of the appeal 
• Before you can get buy-in, people need to feel the problem 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 7
Mistake - #7 - Not dealing proactively with resistance 
• Managing resistance to change is challenging and it’s not 
possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change 
• Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being 
prepared to manage it is a proactive step 
• It’s far better to anticipate objections than to spend your 
time putting out fires, and knowing how to overcome 
resistance to change is a vital part of any change 
management plan 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 8
Mistake - #7 - Not dealing proactively with resistance 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 9
Mistake - #8 - everyone’s reaction will be 
even remotely like yours 
• One of the biggest mistakes you can make in initiating major 
company changes is to expect that everyone’s reaction will 
be even remotely like yours. 
• Regardless of the catalyst for the change, it will be your 
employees who determine whether it successfully achieves 
its desired outcome. 
• Organizations don’t change . People do – or they don’t. 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 10
Mistake - #9 - Lack of communication 
• Change management communications need to be 
targeted to each segment of the workforce, and delivered in 
a two-way fashion that allows people to make sense of the 
change subjectively 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 11
Mistake - #10 - Not enough leadership 
• To many leaders focus too much on management and too 
little on leadership 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 12
Mistake - #11 - Ignoring current corporate culture 
• All change in organisations is 
challenging, but perhaps the 
most daunting is changing 
culture 
• When people in an organization 
realize and recognize that their 
current organisational culture 
needs to transform to support 
the organisation’s success and 
progress, change can occur. 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 13
Mistake - #11 - Ignoring current corporate culture 
Do not under-estimate the status 
quo culture 
• What are the values of the 
current culture and will they 
need to change to ensure 
success? 
Culture eats strategy for breakfast, 
lunch and dinner 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 14
Mistake - #12- Failure to understand and shape 
the informal organization 
• Organizations usually have networks and coalitions of 
people that are not visible on the formal organization chart. 
These networks and coalitions help shape opinion 
• They can either accelerate or retard change. Ignoring or 
circumventing these groups can result in actual resistance 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 15
Mistake - #13 - Not involving the employees 
• Leaders must actively involve the people most affected 
by the change in its implementation 
• This will help ensure employees at all levels of the 
organization embrace the proposed changes 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 16
Mistake - #14 - Over-reliance on structure and 
systems to change behavior 
• Structural and systems changes help create a new context 
and orientation. And they have the surface appeal of being 
visible and fast 
• But people do not become different just because you put 
them in a new context 
• Structures and systems, by themselves, don’t change 
people’s behavior or give them new skills 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 17
Mistake - #15 - Failure to distinguish between 
decision-driven and behavior dependent change 
• Getting people to change their behavior requires a different 
mindset and a different set of leadership skills than making 
decisions about strategy 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 18
Mistake - #16 - Lack of skills and resources 
• Change does not happen through goals and exhortation 
alone. Like any business operation, It also calls for the right 
skills and resources 
• Organizations often simply fail to commit the necessary 
time, people, and resources to making change work 
• Paradoxically, successful behavior change often demands 
the very skills the change Is trying to create 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 19
Mistake - #17 - Focusing only on the long term 
• Large-scale organizational change is a long process 
• Break down your vision into smaller short-term goals, and 
communicate short-term successes at each opportunity 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 20
Mistake - #18 - Failing to plan small successive 
successes 
• An important part of sticking to the vision is to create 
opportunities to achieve smaller goals along the way 
• These small successes will not only work directly toward 
achieving the desired change, but will create positive 
feelings of accomplishment and the drive to pursue the next 
goal 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 21
Mistake - #19 - Using the wrong indicators 
to measure progress 
• When a major change effort gets under way, executives 
often are scared off by the symptoms of their success 
• Don’t panic if you see problems vis-à-vis morale, job stress, 
loyalty, the trust level or job satisfaction 
• It could be proof that you’re doing precisely the right things 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 22
Mistake - #20 - Assuming that change is complete 
once initial goals are achieved 
• If you declare victory too soon, the focus will be taken away 
from your efforts, and all traces of your hard work could 
soon disappear 
• Successful companies consistently re-evaluate their change 
efforts to determine where other areas can be improved, 
such as employee development and retention, new projects 
and new systems and structures 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 23
Mistake - #21 - Excessively open-ended process 
• Achieving fundamental change in an organization is at least 
a 2 to 3 year process 
• But organizations often run out of energy or lose focus after 
9 to 15 months 
18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 24
Good luck 
© Torben Rick 
http://www.torbenrick.eu 
Blog 
http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/

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Top 20+ change management mistakes to avoid

  • 1. Top 20+ change management mistakes to avoid
  • 2. Mistake - #1 - Starting too late • Pressure to act quickly undermines values and culture • Leaders take drastic steps quickly with no time to explore alternatives • Values about participation, involvement, or concern for people disappear • Cynicism grows 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 2
  • 3. Mistake - #2 - No winning strategy • The best change program in the world won’t do any good if your organisation doesn’t have a strategy for getting where it wants to go 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 3
  • 4. Mistake - #3 - Fanfare • All too often organizations announce big changes and new programs with big events and fanfare, but then very little actually happens • The initial energy and enthusiasm fades, specific changes are never identified let alone implemented, results aren’t realized, managers don’t adjust, or maybe something even better comes along leading to a new “launch” with new fanfare 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 4
  • 5. Mistake - #4 - Employees hear it from the media first • Journalists dig for information, and items can run in the media before employees hear about them • Middle managers look dumb and uninformed • Employees feel insulted and left out 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 5
  • 6. Mistake - #5 - Failure to make a compelling and urgent case for change • Failure to create a strong sense of urgency causes a change movement to lose momentum before it gets a chance to start • Establishing a true sense of urgency without creating an emergency is the first objective achieved to overcome the routine of daily business 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 6
  • 7. Mistake - #6 - Only focusing on the rational elements • Organizational change will be extremely difficult in most cases if managers rely only on making a case to the rational, analytical, problem-solving side of the brain • Instead, they must also make an emotional case for change and align the rational and emotional elements of the appeal • Before you can get buy-in, people need to feel the problem 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 7
  • 8. Mistake - #7 - Not dealing proactively with resistance • Managing resistance to change is challenging and it’s not possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change • Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a proactive step • It’s far better to anticipate objections than to spend your time putting out fires, and knowing how to overcome resistance to change is a vital part of any change management plan 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 8
  • 9. Mistake - #7 - Not dealing proactively with resistance 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 9
  • 10. Mistake - #8 - everyone’s reaction will be even remotely like yours • One of the biggest mistakes you can make in initiating major company changes is to expect that everyone’s reaction will be even remotely like yours. • Regardless of the catalyst for the change, it will be your employees who determine whether it successfully achieves its desired outcome. • Organizations don’t change . People do – or they don’t. 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 10
  • 11. Mistake - #9 - Lack of communication • Change management communications need to be targeted to each segment of the workforce, and delivered in a two-way fashion that allows people to make sense of the change subjectively 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 11
  • 12. Mistake - #10 - Not enough leadership • To many leaders focus too much on management and too little on leadership 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 12
  • 13. Mistake - #11 - Ignoring current corporate culture • All change in organisations is challenging, but perhaps the most daunting is changing culture • When people in an organization realize and recognize that their current organisational culture needs to transform to support the organisation’s success and progress, change can occur. 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 13
  • 14. Mistake - #11 - Ignoring current corporate culture Do not under-estimate the status quo culture • What are the values of the current culture and will they need to change to ensure success? Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 14
  • 15. Mistake - #12- Failure to understand and shape the informal organization • Organizations usually have networks and coalitions of people that are not visible on the formal organization chart. These networks and coalitions help shape opinion • They can either accelerate or retard change. Ignoring or circumventing these groups can result in actual resistance 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 15
  • 16. Mistake - #13 - Not involving the employees • Leaders must actively involve the people most affected by the change in its implementation • This will help ensure employees at all levels of the organization embrace the proposed changes 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 16
  • 17. Mistake - #14 - Over-reliance on structure and systems to change behavior • Structural and systems changes help create a new context and orientation. And they have the surface appeal of being visible and fast • But people do not become different just because you put them in a new context • Structures and systems, by themselves, don’t change people’s behavior or give them new skills 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 17
  • 18. Mistake - #15 - Failure to distinguish between decision-driven and behavior dependent change • Getting people to change their behavior requires a different mindset and a different set of leadership skills than making decisions about strategy 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 18
  • 19. Mistake - #16 - Lack of skills and resources • Change does not happen through goals and exhortation alone. Like any business operation, It also calls for the right skills and resources • Organizations often simply fail to commit the necessary time, people, and resources to making change work • Paradoxically, successful behavior change often demands the very skills the change Is trying to create 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 19
  • 20. Mistake - #17 - Focusing only on the long term • Large-scale organizational change is a long process • Break down your vision into smaller short-term goals, and communicate short-term successes at each opportunity 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 20
  • 21. Mistake - #18 - Failing to plan small successive successes • An important part of sticking to the vision is to create opportunities to achieve smaller goals along the way • These small successes will not only work directly toward achieving the desired change, but will create positive feelings of accomplishment and the drive to pursue the next goal 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 21
  • 22. Mistake - #19 - Using the wrong indicators to measure progress • When a major change effort gets under way, executives often are scared off by the symptoms of their success • Don’t panic if you see problems vis-à-vis morale, job stress, loyalty, the trust level or job satisfaction • It could be proof that you’re doing precisely the right things 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 22
  • 23. Mistake - #20 - Assuming that change is complete once initial goals are achieved • If you declare victory too soon, the focus will be taken away from your efforts, and all traces of your hard work could soon disappear • Successful companies consistently re-evaluate their change efforts to determine where other areas can be improved, such as employee development and retention, new projects and new systems and structures 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 23
  • 24. Mistake - #21 - Excessively open-ended process • Achieving fundamental change in an organization is at least a 2 to 3 year process • But organizations often run out of energy or lose focus after 9 to 15 months 18 October 2014 www.torbenrick.eu 24
  • 25. Good luck © Torben Rick http://www.torbenrick.eu Blog http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/