Change management: Finding the balance between ambition and a sense of reality

Our society is in love with quick results; the best diet is the diet which promises that we will lose masses of pounds in just a few weeks and yes, with little effort.

The strange thing is that we all know that this is almost impossible, but we still want to believe in it so much: achieving the desired result in a quick and easy way. When we notice that the results are not as they were supposed to be, the next miracle diet is just around the corner …

Organizations in change sometimes make the same mistake. Often, they turn out to be too ambitious in their objectives; they want too much in too short a time. And when tangible results cannot be presented quickly enough, people are inclined to switch to another, a new change management process.

The result of this is detrimental to the organization: the employees no longer believe in the approach to change and go into a “wait and see” mode, one of the most common seen reasons of resistance to change.

This is a dynamic that every change leader should be aware of. In this article we offer you some insights you might take into account when shaping your change approach.

BE REALISTIC

We often forget that by definition people can only handle a certain amount of change within a certain time span. This should clearly be taken into account when drawing the “change path”. Use the barometer that the organization can offer you, ask questions and take into account what this organization has already learned from previous changes.

MAKE THE CHANGE MEASURABLE

It may come as a surprise, but often change results are not measured. Reasons for this are multiple, but one of the most common, is a not enough precise goal to aim for (e.g.: double digit growth, self-steering teams, we go digital, …).

Making your change measurable makes it clear what the ultimate goal is – what one wishes to achieve – but also progress towards this end point can be made transparent. A “measured” change also delivers clear arguments in case the change approach needs adaptation.

BE TRANSPARANT

Every change benefits from good communication. The vast majority of employees want to be kept informed of what is going on within the company. Not only when change is in the starting blocks, but throughout the entire process. Good communication contributes to the willingness to change.

Communication moments are a great opportunity to enthuse people, but also to put those who contribute to the change in the spotlight. The key remains that communication must be fair; and not just a “good news” show.

MONITOR COALITIONS

It is often thought that once people agree with the change, this will be the case for the rest of the process. Nothing could be further from the truth: colleagues who are supporting the change today, can suddenly no longer be convinced of the approach or the ultimate goal tomorrow. It is therefore important to be able to pick up these changes quickly, so that you can respond adequately. A broad core team that is a good reflection of the organization can provide that barometer function and help with rapid detection.

DO NOT FEAR SETBACK

No change, however small, is easy. Change takes time. Time to accept, time to try and sometimes fail, time to get all the wagons on the right track. As a change leader you have an exemplary function, don’t let yourself be put off by short-term setbacks, which will certainly be there.

PERSEVERE

Keep the end goal in mind, without being blind to the way to it. Make sure you know where you are going and where you are, so that you can share this with others at all times, including those who have doubts about the change.
Being a change leader can be a lonely job: find someone you can trust, who listens to your own frustrations, understands your insecurities and doubts and can advise and assist you to persevere and reach your end goal.