Five common mistakes that Managers make during a change process

Five common mistakes that Managers make during a change process

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Five mistakes that Managers make during a change process. 

By Mark Wager

The workplace is getting faster, strategic visions need to be more global while each and every one of us is more accessible and connected than ever before. For some people change is welcomed with open arms yet with others it’s a painful process that is dreaded. Where change may take us we may not be sure but we know without a doubt that our workplace will continue to change. With each change Managers are tasked with the challenge of guiding their teams through the journey knowing that the success of the change will be directly linked to how well the team buys into the new way of thinking.

We’ve all been involved in workplace changes that have been handled so poorly that the change was doomed before it even saw any change. This article looks at the fundamental mistakes that Managers commonly make when dealing with change.

The information vacuum

During change the presence of a Manager is vital. This may seem obviously but this is an area that is regularly overlooked.  Change is announced and the next few days and weeks are filled with boardrooms of Managers working on the change while at the same time staff are pondering about what is happening, looking for someone to answer their questions and what happens when questions go unanswered? They get answered by sources that are not reliable. In a change process never ever create an information vacuum because it doesn’t stay empty for long. Make sure that you front up and talk to people face-to-face and answer their questions even if the answer is “I don’t know yet” or “No”

Work-grouping people to death

There’s an increasing trend to gather large groups of employees together in order to brainstorm processes and in many cases this is a commendable way to approach work yet never forget that 50% of the population are introverts. There’s a lot of confusion about introversion.  Being an introvert doesn’t mean they are necessarily shy or unsociable. Introversion means that they process and seek energy internally. They are the kind of people who after a long hard days work will want to relax by being quiet or reading a book so by putting these people in an environment that they have to process externally i.e. in front of a large group of people is not productive.

When preparing for group sessions make sure that you provide information in writing well before the meeting and ensure people are aware of how they can provide feedback after the sessions. This way you get information from both introverts and extroverts.

Losing the detail in the big picture.

We all know people who need to know the detail of a plan and people who are happy with the big picture. The way to communicate with both at the same presentation is to start with the big picture and then move onto the details including specific data about what is currently not working before you conclude by going back to the big picture. In my experience I have been told by “detail” people that they can tolerate sitting through a talk on big picture as long as they know the specific detail is coming yet when I talk to “big picture” people I lost them very quickly when I started with the data first.

Not telling people why

Explaining to everyone why changes are taking place may seem so obvious that it’s unconceivable that anyone would do this but when you are about to talk to people about change ask yourself “what is the fundamental reason why your organization exists?”  I can tell you now it’s not because of making money. That is the result of your existence but not the reason. If you can explain this then the reasons for change will make sense to everyone.

Forgetting that you may not be always right

When I recall my biggest failures over my twenty years of management experience there’s one consistent theme. That is the lack of conflict. Each and every one of those mistakes could have been avoided if my teams had felt comfortable to raise objections or alternatives to my proposals. I had to learn this lesson the hard way but you don’t have to. It’s not a failure if a change process has to be delayed for more development or even cancelled altogether to avoid making an even bigger mistake. Remember the old Spanish proverb:

“A wise man changes his mind, a fool never”

Dealing with employees during a change process can be very difficult and filled with potential pitfalls just like the five common errors I have just explained.

The key is that change is a consistent presence and in most cases change is good so its not change that people are weary of because people never stop changing. What they are afraid of is having change imposed on them, the lack of control and the unknown.

Always remember the key message and you will never be far wrong.


This article is taken from the book "Elite Leadership" by Mark Wager. To purchase clink on the picture below

About the Author:

Mark Wager is New Zealand's leading Leadership Coach. To contact Mark regarding  Dealing with Change, MBTI courses and Leadership Coaching please use the enquiry form below

Posted: Saturday 6 April 2013


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