December 17, 2017


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Change Management Process – Barriers and Negative effects – Part 3

Many people believe that an effective Change Management process, has become essential in delivering successful projects and getting a return on investment. This is part 3 in the series about change management. This article will look at the negative effects of insufficient change management as well as the barriers to a successful implementation of change. Click Part 1, Part 2 to read previous articles before this one.

barrier to change Barriers

Common barriers to the successful implementation of change, include the following:

  • Lack of shared vision and an understanding of what needs to be accomplished
  • Change fatigue
  • Timing
  • Lack of leadership support or alignment
  • Sustainability of the project
  • What is happening outside and in parallel to the change
  • Not enough understanding of how to measure the value of a benefit.

Negative Effects

When change management is insufficient, it can have some negative effects. Let’s look at a few.

Employee retention levels may drop

During times of change, especially when the people component is being neglected, it may bring about the loss of key staff. If people are not being heard or equipped to manage the change, people may choose to move onto another environment.

Insufficient focus on managing the impact of change on people

The objective of change management is to minimise the impact of a project and to support the realisation of benefits and to embed the change. Without sufficient change management the focus on the people aspects of the change is neglected and all benefits reliant on people will not be realised.

Risks may not be highlighted

One of the roles of a Change Manager is to highlight the risks that would impact on people. A lack of risk management, may also have an impact on the project timeline.

Drop in customer service

If users who are going through a change experience a productivity dip, or an inability to use the new system or any other negative side effects, it will have an effect on the customers they deal with. It can result in loss of customers and damage to an organisation’s reputation.

Increased resistance to change

People who are not involved in the change process and having change forced upon them, often shows signs of active resistance or even anger. Often just by engaging with employees and allowing them the space to raise and address concerns, can provide a platform for resolving their issues before they impact on project success.

Lower adoption or adaptation to change

Without managing a change properly there may be an increase in resistance and a greater likelihood of impacted staff not adopting a new system or new way of working. Change Managers often play the role of a bridge between the solution and the users and without this bridge there may be poor or no adoption.

Lack of ownership or shared vision

A project or change initiative has an end date. This means that after project completion some-one will need to own the change and ensure its sustainability going forward. During the course of the project there needs to be alignment and shared vision. When perceptions and visions aren’t aligned and no-one is taking ownership of the success of the implementation, the benefits will ultimately not be realised.

Negative impact on productivity

Productivity dips can be caused by factors such as a lack of planning, duplication of effort, despondent employees, ill-equipped stakeholders and business as usual versus project responsibilities overlapping. By equipping the individuals with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to cope with the change, the dip in productivity can be minimised.

In addition to this, the issue of role uncertainty can negatively impact the individuals within the project team and stakeholders involved. When people are unsure or what they’re supposed to be doing, they can swing from either doing nothing or doing too much of the wrong thing.

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5 Principles Of A Good Change Management Communication Strategy

Communication Strategy- Say what you mean and mean what you say

When change is initiated through projects, a good Communication Strategy is at the heart of any successful change management process. It is important that an effective communication strategy is defined about the reasons, the benefits, the plans and proposed effects of that change. This Communication Strategy should be maintained throughout the duration of the change management programme.

Your communication strategy needs to address the key questions:

  • What are the objectives?
  • What are the key messages?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What information will be communicated?
  • When will information be disseminated, and what are the relevant timings?
  • How much information will be provided, and to what level of detail?
  • What mechanisms will be used to disseminate information?
  • How will feedback be encouraged?
  • What will be done as a result of feedback?

Your communication strategy needs to address the key EMOTIONAL questions

William Bridges focuses on the emotional and psychological impact and aspect of the change through these 3 simple questions:

(1)  What is changing? Bridges offers the following guidance – the change leader’s communication statement must:

  • Clearly express the change leader’s understanding and intention
  • Link the change to the drivers that make it necessary
  • Sell the problem before you try to sell the solution
  • Not use jargon

(2)  What will actually be different because of the change? Bridges says: “I go into organizations where a change initiative is well underway, and I ask what will be different when the change is done-and no one can answer the question… a change may seem very important and very real to the leader, but to the people who have to make it work it seems quite abstract and vague until actual differences that it will make begin to become clear. It should be priority to get those differences clear”

(3)  Who’s going to lose what? Bridges maintains that the situational changes are not as difficult for companies to make as the psychological transitions of the people impacted by the change. Transition management is all about seeing the situation through the eyes of the other guy. It is a perspective based on empathy. It is a management and communication process that recognizes and affirms people’s realities and works with them to bring them through the transition. Failure to do this, on the part of change leaders, and a denial of the losses and “lettings go” that people are faced with, sows the seeds of mistrust.

5 guiding principles of a good change management communication strategy

So, in summary the 5 guiding principles of a good change management communication strategy are as follows:

  • Clarity of message – to ensure relevance and recognition
  • Resonance of message – the emotional tone and delivery of the message
  • Accurate targeting – to reach the right people with the right message
  • Timing schedule – to achieve timely targeting of messages
  • Feedback process – to ensure genuine two way communication

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Source: Strategies for managing change by Stephen WarrilowChange Management Expert

If you want to work with Stephen Warrilow, please visit www.strategies-for-managing-change to learn how to manage change successfully.

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