Leading Change - Pushback and Obstacles


It is commonly said that, “the only thing constant is change”.

Companies must always be changing to retain their clients and talent. Charles Darwin stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”

But why then do most change initiatives fail?

Studies after studies prove that companies do not achieve the results that were intended with their change initiatives. Kepner-Tregoe research found that nearly two-thirds of executives surveyed felt that employee morale was “worse” or “the same” as a result of a change initiative. The fact is that people don’t resist change, they resist being changed. It isn’t the change that they fear. It is the transition!

Many change efforts fail simply because there is no felt sense of urgency. Before people can be sold on the benefits of change, the people must experience the need to change. If there are specific and measurable outcomes, then everyone will know if and when progress is being made towards the objectives, however every change (no matter how positively it is viewed), will create emotional stress for some in the organization.

If this stress not anticipated or understood, it will likely result in greater resistance to the change. Questions, issues, and challenges of the dissidents and resisters who push back on the change can help improve and strengthen the change effort, but only if they are encouraged to communicate their concerns.

Steps for removing obstacles:

  • Identify change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change

  • Look at your organizational structure, job descriptions, and performance and compensation systems to ensure they're in line with your vision

  • Recognize and reward people for making change happen

  • Identify people who are resisting the change, and help them see what's needed

  • Take action to quickly remove barriers (human or otherwise)

All change initiatives experience setbacks. If the vision is communicated, understood and shared, and each person knows the personal and organizational benefits that will result from it and can anticipate those setbacks, the more likely success is to follow.

Are you interested in receiving insights into the overall likelihood of success or failure of a change initiative that you are leading inside your organization? Contact us to perform a Change Readiness Assessment and gauge your level of organizational readiness. Be armed with a planning tool to assist in identifying the red flags that may be preventing your next change initiative from being a success.