Ineffectively Managing Change

Only a third of all participants in the 2012 Towers Watson survey created an integrated communication and change management strategy to help employees understand and align with what is expected of them.

Technology and regulatory changes in the energy field have brought about many organizational transitions. With these changes come multifarious systems and problems that seldom have simple resolutions. Partnered alongside many system issues are the human matters that have become widely recognized as change management - addressing people and organizational issues. Recognizing the importance of change management is a significant step. However, the more complex and difficult task is asking the question, how do I address this in my organization?

Issues

Particular organization/people issues have been cited as recurring among many change/transitional efforts. It is a combination and escalation of common issues - having a weakness in one area, which produces inadequacies in others. At this time, no defined indicators back the significance of one issue over another. However, “observation has shown that the two most important are communication deficiencies and the failure to develop user ownership.”

Companies often spend the majority of time, money and resources on the actual process or system change, omitting proper preparation and useful feedback from those involved and affected by the change. Many companies fail to focus on the people side of change, fail to create a structured change plan to prevent and counter resistance. Successful transition plans are the product of team work, act as a roadmap for those involved in the change and provide new perspectives on role changes, conflicts and codependences.  

Below are important factors of change management that have been identified as impacting and inhibiting successful change initiatives. 

Organizational and People Issues:

Communication

- Ineffective outgoing and internal communications.
- Ineffective listening.
- Failure to building awareness of change.

The 2011 Change Survey by Towers Watson revealed that just 1/3 of those polled design a unified communication and change management strategy to assist their employees in recognizing and understanding their role in the process.         

Culture

- Poor relationships and knowledge gaps between operations/frontline and information technology services.
- Lack of strategies to build or maintain a new and progressive culture. 

A large range study of organizations done by the School of Psychology in Queensland Australia illustrates that trust influences which sources employees seek information from and how they appraise the information they receive. Organizational cultures that exhibit poor working relationships and lack of trust in management are at disadvantage when initiating a change process. KPMG’s survey of over 130 Canadian companies found only 46% of those involved reported management receiving training and applicable change management techniques. Giving senior and middle management people the communication skills they need to help counter this issue.

Underestimating Complications

- Lack of proper forecasting, leading to missed deadlines and budget problems.
- Poor or non existent credibility. 

Promise only what can be delivered. A basic strategy such as this can go a long way in preventing underdelivering and losing credibility with your employees.

Scope Creep

- Failure to define and maintain original success criteria.
- Failure to maintaining malleable negotiations and deadlines.

Organizational

- No clear vision for change, resulting in poor staff competency.
- Lack of active sponsors and leadership.
- Ineffective reporting structure.
- Lack of role clarification and responsibilities for those involved.
- Failure to set success measures and benchmark existing practices.

Katz and Kahn, authors of The Social Psychology of Organizations, state that goals and roles must be well defined and comprehended. Role definitions in outlined goals allow organizations to function; the attitudes, expectations and underlying values of employees act as the bond that holds the organization together.

Technology

- Insufficient testing measures.
- Ineffectively gauging user friendliness with lack of input from operators.  

Professional services firm KMPG illustrate in the results of their survey that an important part of the communication process is to provide channels for feedback to allow employees to express their opinions, recommendations and concerns. Whenever possible employees should collaborate in the planning and decision making process.

Training

- Deficient grounding and training per targeted audience.
- Inapppropriately scheduling and preparing training and resources allocation.  

82% of companies surveyed by Towers Watson reported they train managers in change management though only 36% of those found it effective. Companies are realizing that this is an issue and attempting to address change management but going about it in an unproductive manner.

Leadership issues

- Inability to keep an objective viewpoint.
- Lack of controlled and evenly distributed delegation.
- Lack of support from stakeholders to assist in design and prior to implementation.
- Weak political skills. 

McKinsey found leaders base approximately 80% of their communications on what they deem most significant, overlooking the majority of their workforces motivating forces. Leadership must be tuned into and aligned with the needs and viewpoints of their organization. This begins the path to encouraging and receiving the political support and responsiveness needed for success.

Many individuals have a vested interest in the long term pay off of a system or process change. The changes often directly impact their future job functions, process times, professional relations and environment. Many times the short-term interruptions, concerns and change fatigue lead to resistance and opposition, further establishing the significance of an effective and timely change management strategy.

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