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Six Common Mistakes Leaders Make During Change and How to Avoid Them

Change is very hard for all involved. During times of organizational change, morale tends to drop and top performers may look for better options. Change is also commonly met with resistance (even good change!) at first and productivity can take a hit. The other truth about change? It is unavoidable. For managers and leaders, avoiding change is not the answer. The answer is learning how to manage change. The first step is to know what NOT to do. The most common mistakes leaders make during change include: 

  1. Not being directly involved with the project.

Employees find it extremely hard to get “on board” with a change when their supervisor is disengaged. This is an important task that should not be delegated. The manager should be attending all meetings related to the change, answering questions, and intervening if issues arise. The manager should be leading the change. 

  1. Failure to adequately sell the problem.

Frequently, leaders are sold on the solution before employees are even aware of the problem. Implementing a change without walking employees through the process can leave everyone confused and resistant. It is important for managers to consistently articulate the “why we must change” throughout the initiative and explain the decision-making process it took to arrive at the solution.

  1. Infrequent communication or sending inconsistent signals.

Communication is key in many aspects of management, but certainly during times of change. Employees may not take the project seriously or feel very conflicted about the idea if they are not hearing a consistent, clear message. Err on the side of over communicating the problem, change process, timelines, etc. Also, make sure all managers/leaders are saying the same thing!

  1. Ignoring the impact of change on employees.

This is a big one! Change can take quite a toll on employees. For some, organizational change can feel like a major loss. Many may have concerns about their role, job status, future in the company, or be fearful about uncertainties. Plan in extra time to listen to concerns and address them seriously. Give employees space to think about how the change will impact them directly and give opportunities to ask questions. Focus on the people, not just the business issues.

  1. Not providing adequate resources.

Moving forward with a change without adequate resources (people, time, money) creates another level of stress and frustration for employees. Employees may feel even more resistant to change if the “new way” feels even more difficult than the former. Spend time in the planning phase to identify resources that will be need to facilitate a smoother transition.

  1. Changing priorities or shifting focus.

Be careful about having too many good ideas at once. Implementing one change and then shifting to another idea midstream usually means that neither project is taken seriously. Even if you know that there will be a series of changes, implement them one at time and allow time for each to be thoroughly processed and adopted. Make sure to show passion and enthusiasm to help keep your employees engaged.

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