Common pitfalls leaders make during times of change

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In today’s fast-paced world, all businesses are faced with the prospect of change. Although guiding an organisation may seem like a daunting task, leaders must equip themselves with the skills and resources necessary to lead their business and employees successfully through periods of change. After all, the pace and complexity of change is only going to increase.

Without the right planning and preparation, leaders may struggle with change management. Change is complex, so, before tackling it head on, familiarise yourself with these typical — yet avoidable — pitfalls.

Acting too quickly

Although change is happening at an astonishing rate, it is important not to rush into major company changes. Rather than succumbing to pressure to act fast, take adequate time to understand your alternative routes and the risks associated with taking them. Fully plan each step of your change, and mitigate against anything that could potentially go wrong.

Too much hype

Often, leaders announce organisational change with a big bang at the beginning — perhaps a global announcement, a press conference or a large-scale staff event. This leaves expectations and anticipation high, so living up to this can be difficult if you don’t create a steady flow of activity. If you are going to “launch” your change in a big way, make sure you are ready to act on it straight away, or you will quickly lose excitement and credibility.

Not dealing with resistance to change

Before you set about changing the direction of your business, take the time to anticipate where resistance might come from — and have a rebuttal strategy ready to go in case you need it. Whether it’s an uproar from staff, negative press or loss of customer confidence, make sure you minimise risks and be ready to put out a fire straight away should one ignite.

Lack of clear leadership

Your change project should have a clear leader — someone who is ultimately accountable for its success. Lack of a strong leader can lead to loss of focus or drive, and can ultimately leave your business drifting down many different, conflicting paths.

Not setting an end date

Although times change fast, companies don’t. Large organisations can take years to change, and others may need to be constantly changing in order to keep up with their competition. However, each project of change management should have an approximate timeline, so that you can set clear goals. Open-ended change can often lead to loss of focus.

Too much focus on long-term

You may have set a two- to three-year plan, but you should be setting small milestones along the way, and recognising once you have reached each one. If you monitor your transformation in small steps, you can adjust your plan if the need arises. Too much focus on the end goal only could mean you oversee important details along the way and appear inflexible to feedback or resistance.