Change efforts within an organization have a high rate of failure – usually around two thirds –, which has led researchers and managers alike to pay increasing attention to change management. As this is an alarming value, since the 90’s, several studies have been conducted only to verify that the ratio, despite innumerous efforts, persists.
Author: Pedro Neves | Reading time: 3 minutos
Given this scenario, most approaches to change management strive to define the ideal moment for the manager to prepare its organization for the process. In a classical article, published at Harvard Business Review, John Kotter defined that the first big mistake that managers make is not establishing a strong enough sense of urgency, which eventually leads to the failure of their efforts towards change. Similarly, a report by Mckinsey pointed out that the primary concern in this case should be the creation of an appealing narrative of change. Nevertheless, and despite the importance of knowing how to communicate the urgency and need for change, preparing the organization for change does not start only when we are getting close to it.
Contrary to the lyrics of Sergio Godinho’s song, today is not the first day of the rest of your life, at least in what comprises organizational change. People interpret the vision and course intended for their organization in light of what its life and history was. It is often the case that people resist change not because they fear the future or question the vision, nor because they are just prone to resist any type of change. They resist it because they have a tendency to look to the culture of the organization and the decisions that were taken in the past and assume that the future will not be different. They assume there is continuity in the actions and principles defended by their leaders.
If, for example, human resources practices show consistent concern for employees, providing training and internal promotion opportunities and creating remuneration systems based on individual and team performance, while direct supervisors demonstrate these principles in their daily behavior, then employees will be more willing to embrace a potential change effort.
Donald Keough, former president of Coca-Cola, argued that one of the various ways to make a business fail is to continuously send inconsistent messages to employees. Therefore, the best way to prepare for the next change and to know if your team will adhere to this effort is to evaluate, during a period of increased stability, the values the organization uphelds and the behaviors practiced by their leaders, . It is to lead for change so that, when the time comes, it is possible to lead the change.
Originally published at Forbes Portugal