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10 common barriers to change

Change is an unavoidable element of all of our lives, and the ability to seize the opportunities it provides underpins the success of all organisations. It is not enough for employees to simply survive change; people need to flourish in an ever changing environment if they are to realise their potential and thus contribute to organisation success: this requires courageous leadership. This Leadership must be underpinned by good strategies, techniques and approaches.

Change is a function of:

  • dissatisfaction with the present
  • a shared vision of the future
  • some first practical steps

Each of these elements is key and needs to be fully leveraged to bring about change. Change leadership is about tirelessly working on each of these elements. Change leadership is also about ensuring all the people in the organisation understand change and its personal and organisational impact; and have the capabilities and confidence to flourish in the necessarily changing environment of our business today.

There are, however, a number of barriers to successful change - both in terms of implementing it and equally if not more importantly sustaining it. I have jotted down my top 10 barriers and would welcome feedback as to your top barriers - either from this list or one of your own:

  • Not enough understanding about the change itself and poor alignment behind it - for example, no clear vision, direction, priorities
  • Lack of leadership - this is needed to inspire and engage people’s energies as well as to keep relentlessly moving forward
  • Lack of focus and strong project management of the change - no clear accountabilities and inter-dependencies between roles
  • No engagement and/or buy-in of key stakeholders - start with a failure to identify the key stakeholders (they could be any or all of the following: employees, shareholders, customers, executive/Board, the community) and then a failure to undertake detailed analysis of their needs/preferences and a detailed communication and engagement strategy
  • No clear process for managing endings and beginnings, and co-ordinating the change process
  • People’s issues/ barriers to change are not defined and and there are no actions to address them leading to low engagement, poor morale, a fast return to 'the old ways' and a sort of 'let's sit it out' environment
  • People are not involved in developing quick wins and communicating them - this is needed to build credibility around change
  • People practices are not reviewed and re-aligned - this is needed to ensure the change is sustained and to enable people to operate in a new way
  • Successes are not recognised, communicated and/or celebrated - this is needed to increase the pace of change and gain commitment to the new way of doing things. Change is very tiring and is often something that requires extra effort - people need to see that this effort is paying off and their contribution is valued.
  • Progress is not measured and the learning is not reviewed - this is needed to sustain the change


Published by: Lisette on 15/09/2009 - Add a comment

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