Even the most sensible change initiatives can flounder if emotions and political dynamics within an organization are ignored. But a five-step process can proactively address these “softer” factors — and enable successful change.
Ellen R. Auster (Schulich School, York University) and Trish Ruebottom (Goodman School of Business, Brock University) have worked with executives both as consultants and in more than 400 change projects conducted as part of the Kellogg/Schulich Executive MBA program. What they heard, over and over, was frustration over change projects that were cut short or stalled. The causes: push-back from staff, push-back from suppliers or simple fear of change. They saw innovative ideas get suffocated, time and energy wasted, and change goals sacrificed to short-term self-interest.
“Left unattended, skepticism, fear and panic can wreak havoc on any change process,” Auster and Ruebottom write. Employees can end up disengaged, distracted or burned out. Exasperated high-performing employees may even leave for calmer seas.