Change management is impossible without a plan.
However, creating a plan to guide change isn’t as simple as it sounds. Your organizational transformation will eventually hit a roadblock unless you understand and account for barriers to change management.
Organizations go through many kinds of change at different points of time. Although every type of change requires different resources and strategies, it’s important to have a plan to overcome barriers.
From employee resistance to software learning, understanding common barriers is key to a successful change initiative.
What you need to know about organizational change
Here’s how it typically goes: Management wants to implement a change to accomplish a goal. This change is meant to have a positive impact on the organization, its employees, and customers. Leadership has outlined a vision, articulated a goal, and set a timeline to make the change successful.
But things don’t go as planned.
You may have all of the necessary tools to make the change happen, but if the employees aren’t onboard, it’s unlikely your efforts will go far.
Employee resistance to change management can be a difficult hurdle to overcome, but it’s not impossible. By anticipating which factors might create obstacles in your change management plan and proactively addressing them, the likelihood that your plan will go smoothly will rise.
The top barriers to change management
When you sense something is hindering your change plan, find out which barriers are affecting your progress.
It’s important to take a proactive approach when addressing these obstacles. The longer you let issues fester, the more they will impair your plan.
1. Lack of employee involvement
Business success requires employees to be engaged and productive members of the organization. However, if employees are not included in the change initiative, they will become resistant and disengaged. As a result, productivity will drop.
Involve your employees as much as possible in the process — from the planning stage all the way through implementation.
Ask for feedback and listen to their concerns. You may learn something valuable that will help you modify your strategy for the better. At the very least, employees will appreciate the ability to provide input.
2. Ineffective communication strategy
Most employees won’t automatically embrace change. In fact, it is wise to assume they will not.
Even if the news is coming from the CEO, you still need to effectively communicate why the change is needed, how it will be implemented, what are the desired outcomes, and how it will affect employees’ daily lives.
Poor communication is a huge barrier to change management, but it is one that can be easily overcome.
Leaders must be as transparent as possible in their communication. It helps to make a formal announcement that the entire company receives, or at least the people to whom the change is relevant. Then they should make it clear they are open to questions and concerns, as well as ideas to make the change even better.
3. Unknown current state
You can’t assess the efficacy of any change effort without knowing exactly from where you are starting.
Don’t just dive into a change. Take the time to evaluate where your business is, and what you need to drive the change forward successfully. Without understanding your current state, you can’t adequately prepare to transform. Employees will become even more resistant if they feel unprepared.
4. Overly complex organizational processes
Organizations implement new processes or adopt tools with the goal of improving productivity and effectiveness. However, adhering to these new processes and using tools effectively is often easier said than done.
Employee frustration with overly complex processes and software systems and subsequent resistance are major barriers to change management.
To remedy the situation, provide enough information and support regarding the change. Be sure to provide effective training for any new tools.
Employee training is integral to effective software adoption. Many barriers to change management are bound to crop up without it. Digital learning tools that provide real-time, contextual guidance while employees are actually using the software is a proven way to provide effective training. By deploying training support at the point of need, employees can complete tasks productively without spending time in traditional training sessions.
Change management is not easy, but if you address the barriers, it’s possible to implement effectively.
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.