The Unicorn HRO Blog

Myths of leading organizational change

Posted Tuesday, March 08, 2016 by Unicorn HRO

Without change, organizations can run the risk of losing their competitive edge in their industry, fail to meet the needs of their changing customer base, and fail to experience growth. Despite the importance of change, there continues to remain several misunderstandings associated with implementing and maintaining it.

Below are 5 of the most common myths of leading organizational change.

1. Change has a clear path

Organizational change does not always have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Research indicates that change can be non-linear, take a circular route, can move the company backwards for short periods of time, and can include periods of stagnation. Even with the greatest level of planning, organizational change is unpredictable. A good leader will be aware of this, be able to tolerate uncertainty, and apply a flexible approach. This includes having an openness to revising project plans when needed.

2. Change should be a simple process

Even the smallest change within an organization cannot be managed with a simple strategy. All change is complex and requires a strategic coordinated strategy consisting of multiple steps. There is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy that works for every project, and companies cannot always rely on approaches that have worked in the past. Each new project initiative requires a unique set of steps and does not end once the goal has been achieved. Change also requires maintenance to ensure the benefits are maintained over time.

3. Change should happen slowly

One of the most common myths is that change should happen slowly and too much change in too short a period of time, can be destructive. Research into the leadership qualities of managers at some of the highest performing organizations show otherwise. These organizations are able to drive change, understanding that this helps them to remain up to date and marketable in a fast paced economy. High performing organizations have both higher levels of change and faster paced change. They also embrace change and identify ways to proactively address it.

4. Stress is inevitable

An often overlooked and important factor associated with leading organizational change is to pay attention to your team and their reactions to the overall initiatives. Good leaders prepare their teams prior to implementing a change, communicating the strategic plan and highlighting the benefits of the approach they are taking. Change does not necessary mean resistance from employees, increased frustration, or  stress. When managed well, a good leader can inspire excitement in their team, help their team to associate change with positivity, and help them to see the benefits. This approach can help to reduce frustration in addition to increasing the likelihood of success.

5. More planning equals better outcomes

Careful planning is required when determining the type of change that needs to take place and to determine the best approach. Good leaders are good learners, they are able to identify when the planning process ends and when action is required. Additionally, they are able to reflect on the steps taken, learn from these, and are open to experimenting. Good leaders do not take high risks but they also do not feel restricted by plans. Theylearn from experience and can revise their approaches when it is clear that their current process is not working.

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