Sanna Lehto: 4 common change management pitfalls

Change is usually a long journey with variuous potential stumbling blocks. In recent years, change management has been actively discussed and it seems that its significance is understood better all the time. For example, I have noticed that nowadays the importance of change communications is recognised well, and lack of information sharing is rarely an issue. Still, there are some matters that people tend to forget. In this blog post I will present some of the most common pitfalls that you may want to avoid in your upcoming change projects.  

Forgetting to involve people in change planning 

I bet you have heard this one before. Despite of it being a cliché, I must mention involving is easily forgotten or left out on purpose. Under time pressure you might be tempted to take a shortcut but it usually does not pay off.

Involving people does not have to mean an unnecessarily long or troublesome project. In practice, involving people can simply mean discussions together or piloting with a specific group. The most important thing is that the people impacted by the change are being heard in the planning phase. This gives better understanding of the audience viewpoints and makes the change implementation easier too. 

Lack of following up on progress

You make a plan in the beginning of the change project and stick to it. Only after the project you ask the stakeholders how it went. Does this sound familiar? 

Unfortunately, even a good plan may lose its purpose if you do not follow up on the progress already during the change. You should have regular checkpoints to be able to change the plan or re-allocate activities. Assessment and reflection after the change project are beneficial but that is not enough. 

Thinking change is just small potatoes

Sometimes this may be the truth but, in most cases, changes are assessed to be smaller than they actually are. Underestimating the change may lead to a plan and schedule that are too optimistic and as a result, some people may be left behind. 

We are all different: what is small potatoes for some, may have a huge impact e.g. on work satisfaction for another. Some people embrace the change and assimilate swiftly, whereas others need more time to adopt the change. Bear this in mind when planning the change, schedule, and resourcing. 

Too many simultaneous changes ongoing 

In large organizations it is common that there are several changes going on at the same time. Many of them may also require attention from the same people. This impacts, inevitably, the implementation as people have limited capacity to absorb new.  

I suggest you to view the changes from a portfolio perspective and schedule the implementation steps wisely. This way you can ensure that there are no concurrent changes impacting the same people. 

Do you want to avoid the most common pitfalls? Or are you stuck in one? Don’t hesitate to ask for help! We are a bunch of talented change professionals ready to help. We also provide learning paths where you can improve your own change understanding.