In 1995, Management Guru John Kotter published his influential work in the field of change management: “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” Since then, hundreds of books, courses, and journal articles have been developed on the topic of organizational change management. Every MBA program has a course dedicated specifically to managing change in organizations. Nevertheless, these books seem to have changed little about how successful managers and organizations have been in bringing about change. Change management efforts fail repeatedly because they do not have the desired impact. A survey by management consultancy firm McKinsey revealed that only 30 percent of surveyed executives ranked their change programs s completely or mostly successful.
The only thing that stays constant in business is change. Be it cost cutting, moving to greater performance, surviving tough economic environments, catching up with competitors or preparing for restructuring, every day presents new challenges and opportunities, more so in this volatile economic environment. Engaging change is now an item on every company’s “to do” list and employers need these changes to work right away. Investigating deeper into why organizational change programs fail exposes that the vast majority of change programs falter because at the very aspects of an organization they are trying to change: attitudes of the employees and behaviors of the management.
How managers acclimatize to the shifting possibility can make the difference between existing and flourishing. Managers further improve their chances for success in change management if they considerably advance employee expectations, energetically alter employee behavior, and engage the awareness of individual employees at all levels of the organization, from top management to the front line.
The Power of Story Telling in Influence
Change management begins with designing a persuasive story, initially communicating it to all employees, and then persistently following it up with reinforcement of the message, communications of progress, employee involvement, and initial success stories. The story telling has to touch the employees in what they care about. Research shows that what an organizational leader cares about often does not strike into a majority of the workforce. What’s more, ask employees to lead the front-line change. When employees lead change themselves, they own the change management process. They are more committed to the process and results of the change.
Prototyping Change through Role Modeling
Leaders should prototype the desired changes in behavior and attitudes to marshal influential leaders to steer change deeper into the organization. Leaders are reluctant to role model because they do not see themselves as part of the problem and hence live in the delusion that they are not the ones who need to change.