It’s not a secret that change can be difficult to handle. According to Deepak Chopra, ’’Every great change is preceded by chaos’’.
Charles Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.
This principle of evolution also applies to business. In volatile markets in which change is constant and unpredictable, organizations that fail to adapt will struggle to survive.
Most Managers and Leaders recognize this and are now in search of talents and soft skills such as adaptability, problem solving, creativity, and leadership etc. that will enable their organizations to become more susceptible to change.
Despite this, there are countless unexpected obstacles, anything from your team rebelling against you to failing at enforcing new business processes.
Change affects everyone, whether it’s a minor staff restructuring or a business merger. Change is a crucial component of growth and evolution, and with organizational change management, you’ll facilitate a smooth transition into a new age of business.
Many companies are plagued by inertia, or the inability to change to better fit current needs. They become comfortable with the status quo instead of seeking ways to improve. Sometimes, companies that fail to change, end up failing completely. Although each organization faces unique challenges, there are certain common barriers to organizational change that make adapting difficult.
However, anticipating such barriers and addressing them proactively can help change managers minimize resistance and promote innovation during transition periods.
- Resistance – Seeing Change as a Threat Instead of an Opportunity
This is one of the greatest barriers to organizational change. The first step to mitigating resistance is identifying what is causing it. Often, people resist change due to not understanding the necessity of the change. When the benefits of a proposed change are not clear, employees are more likely to believe it will impose undue stress in their workflow or threaten their productivity.
Change managers can avoid resistance by clearly explaining how the change will benefit employees. Be specific — humans are self-serving creatures. They not only want to know how a change will benefit the company, they want to know how it will make their individual jobs easier. As soon as employees see a proposed change as an opportunity to succeed, they will not only stop resisting, they will advocate for it.
- Poor Communication from Leadership and Lack of Transparency
Communication is always an essential leadership trait, but it’s even more critical for motivating employees to embrace change. An opaque leadership style and poor communication are serious barriers to organizational change.
While a change is still in the planning stages, leaders should carefully articulate why it’s necessary, the timeline by which it will be implemented, who will be affected, what the main goals are, and how progress will be assessed, among other metrics.
Providing answers to these questions will foster greater trust between employees and leadership, and make the overall transition period smoother.
- Not welcoming employee input
No one in your organization has better insight about what it’s like to perform a job than those who do it every day. If the need to update certain policies, implement a new software system, or rejigger a long-held process arises, solicit input from staff.
Giving employees greater ownership of the change during the planning phase will automatically motivate them to embrace it. Finally, they will be more willing to champion the change among their peers.
- Leaders Who Think Strategy is static
To succeed in a rapidly evolving business world, strategy must be dynamic. One of the most overlooked barriers to organizational change is unwillingness among leaders to amend strategy to account for emerging internal and external forces.
The conditions that propelled transformation are subject to change as time goes on. That means change strategy must have enough flexibility built in to bend. If a change initiative is too rigid, the end goal of the change could become obsolete before it is fully implemented.
There are many barriers to organizational change, but with enough transparency, communication, input, and just the right amount of planning, organizations will become more adaptable.