Why Organizational Change Fails?

In order to survive and cope up with new challenges in the market place, almost every business goes through a very tedious task of organizational change under various names like restructuring, rightsizing, re-engineering, turnarounds etc. Only those businesses which were able to change and evolve as per the market realities have been successful. While others have failed miserably even though they were pioneers in their fields at some point. Nokia, Toshiba and Kodak were top ranked companies and dominated their respective markets. However they failed to embrace the evolving market realities and change the way they worked. And it just took a couple of years to become obsolete and none of them is in business.

The only thing that is constant is ‘Change’ and there’s no denying it- change is tough. When an organization decides it needs to change certain processes/ systems, it is very common for the employees to feel uncomfortable or even intimidated. According to Rick Maruer, author of the book ‘Beyond the Walls of Resistance’ 70% of the attempts to change organizations fail. Such a high failure rate does not only lead to many missed opportunities but also waste so many scarce resources which if used well could change the fortune of the organization.

Below, I share some insights   why organizations fail to implement change and what could be done to bring a successful change.

Organizational change can fail due to following reasons:

1. It’s not compelling:

Usually the organizational change is interpreted as more work and more stress for the same pay. Change needs a strong reason. Employees can’t be pushed to change until they are not convinced of the urgency. Employees will not  commit to change if they will not find it compelling.

2. It’s not deemed as required:

Change can’t be an option. Change is a requirement. Sometimes leaders fail to understand the need of the change. They try solutions which are familiar but not appropriate to bring any change. Lack of conviction on part of the leadership leads to abandonment of change.

3. Lack of proper communication:

Sometimes it is not the message but the way it is communicated that does all the harm as the leadership may find it difficult to deliver a tough message and the employees may find the message inconsistent and may interpret it differently. Consequently employees do not embrace the change and hamper the very idea of organizational change.

4. Differing Agendas:

Sometimes hearing about a change many employees assess the implications for their jobs/positions and resist the change due to their ego and self interests.

5. Lack of Leadership:

Though the change strategy is formulated by the senior management but it is the people at lowest level who make the change happen. Sometimes people at lower levels don’t trust their higher ups and hence don’t participate in the change management process. Due to which the intended effect becomes very difficult to achieve. And a number of times change fails for a simple reason that leaders do not know what not to do.

6. Lack of performance measures:

Organizational change is all about improvement. There has to be clear set of performance measures to check whether the organization is on track. Without the performance indicators managing and sustaining change will be practically impossible.

7. Lack or poor allocation of resources:

Organizational change is a long term process and it requires a long term investment to sustain. Change can fail if there is a lack of resources. Sometimes leader find it very challenging to allocate proper resources to all the areas of change and they tend to allocate more resources to certain area of change which they find more compelling while compromising other areas.

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