Understanding the critical change management barriers will help corporate leaders anticipate and mitigate the factors that typically derail any change effort.  As we all know, change management is hard, mainly when it is not a step-function, but indeed a transformational leap. Most transformations fail or underperform when compared to the pre-transformation highfalutin expectations. Furthermore, not anticipating the change management barriers and addressing them proactively is a sure recipe for failure.

Change has its enemies. 
~Robert Kennedy

The Top 7 Change Management Barriers

  1. Do As I Say:  One of the most traditional Change Management barriers is the top management professing one thing and then modeling a different behavior.  Employees are perceptive and can fathom not just clear mandates, but the implicit signals the actions of the management sends.
  2. Business as Usual: Avoiding dealing with the change – the 800-pound gorilla in the room – or not acknowledging it and wishing it goes away is a common trait among some company leadership.  Just going about business-as-usual and expecting the change to take root is another significant barrier to change.
  3. Forgetting the Individual: At the end of the company is a collective image of its employees, the guiding principles of corporate culture, and the broad societal mores.  It starts with the individual, his/her motivations, aspirations, competencies, and skills. And their fears, uncertainties, and doubts.  Without addressing What’s in it for me, individuals will become a barrier to any change efforts.

    One of the most traditional Change Management barriers is the top management professing one thing and then modeling a different behavior. 

  4. Political Dynamics: A company seldom acts in unison, and cliques, informal, and formal groups are the norm. Even if the destination has the consensus, the approach and the route to get there may be in the debate.  The Change leadership must address the politics and sometimes harness them, sometimes snub them, and sometimes work around them.
  5. Addressing the Symptoms: Change is painful, intense, and invasive. But instead of solving these hard problems, at times the leadership treats the outward symptoms and not the cause. Furthermore, the kumbayah moments may look warm and cuddly, but the simmering underlying reality is far different.
  6. Under Budgeting: A cardinal sin enterprises commit is treating the change management challenge as an afterthought and as a checklist item on a project plan. Hence, the under budgeting is the norm than the exception.  Without funding the change cause, any talk is just that and is empty regarding its impact.
  7. The “C” Players: Last but not the least, to show that the company leaders take the transformation change seriously, the team in charge of the change management should be influential members of the leadership. Having the change team populated by corporate discards and misfits will send a negative signal to the rank and file as to the strategic importance of the change endeavor.

Irrespective of which change management model you follow, knowing these change management barriers will help leaders plan for and mitigate these and other challenges and lower the failure rates.

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Change Management Offerings from our Partners:

Science of Successful Organizational Change

Make Change Happen

Managing your Team through Change

Financial Times Change Management Briefing

Master the Change Process

Fundamentals of Change Management

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