Why is change so difficult?

why change Business Transformation

Why is change so difficult?

Why don’t people change when we ask them to?

Any successful ERP project or Process Excellence program must include solid Change Management. As a leader of such a project, in order for your company to make its necessary changes successfully, there are certain challenges inherent to change which must be both recognized and addressed.

Change is a fundamental issue with any company who is working to improve or compete. The basic and obvious reason for this is that no one really likes to change. The idea of change may be a good one in theory, but when it comes down to taking action, change is h-a-r-d.

However, one of the primary reasons organizations struggle with change goes beyond the basic concept of change simply being hard. This reason answers the question, “Why is change hard?” The answer: the discrepant motivations for the change.

This discrepancy goes beyond the business or even the industry. Whether you are in finance, manufacturing, retail, or any other industry, you’ll see it. And, you’ll even feel it.

Executives want change in order to increase profitability, reduce waste, increase efficiency, and help their company become more competitive in the marketplace. In other words, they are highly motivated to change the company in large part because this change will bring about more success.

If we’re being honest, unfortunately, often times this success is often me-focused. If you’ve been around long enough in a company to go through a change of any kind, you’ve likely even witnessed it.  An executive who was “in it” for themselves.  In addition, the executive level of an organization is not typically the group being asked to change. They get to send out the order. They hold a meeting to tell the people what they are doing “for them.”  The people then hold a “meeting-after-the-meeting” and talk about what the leaders have done “to them.”  The perspective can unfortunately often sing to the tune of: “Why should we help the workforce change? Shouldn’t our leaders do what they are paid to do?”

Enter the workforce perspective:

The workforce is being asked to change what they do, and they must be respected and valued from the executive leadership level for this to go well. It may not be what the executives think is important, but it is crucial to the people being asked to make the change. If there is little interaction or communication between the people being asked to change and those dictating this change, morale and engagement will suffer quickly. When morale declines, so does productivity. It’s human nature and something I’ll discuss more at length in a future post.

Real change takes place at the level of the individual. For an organization to experience tangible, measurable change, it can only happen when the individuals being asked to make this change actually do so in a productive and lasting manner.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume those asking for change are the executives. Those being asked to change are the workforce.

Two Key Questions

There are two key questions the workforce has that executives need to understand and address for a productive conversation to take place regarding change:

  1. What’s in it for me?
  2. What are my chances for success?

When executives can help to answer and address those 2 questions for their workforce in a positive, productive way, people will actually lead themselves in change. The will have their confidence boosted, in a REAL way. Not in a false cheerleading manner.

When executives help to re-position change as a positive goal, they have just set the company, and more importantly its people, up for successful Change Management.

In the coming posts, I will address this challenge in a tangible and practical way and also discuss inherent risks of change with methods you can utilize to help ensure your project and Change Management program is a success.

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Bill Lewis
Bill Lewis
Senior Consultant , KnowledgePath Consulting
Bill has a proven track record of supporting organizations in large scale change, transition, and growth. Grounded in business fundamentals & values, his work has consistently supported overall business strategies. He brings extensive expertise and experience in sustainable change leadership and all facets of change, communication, education theories, and implementations. He is also a owner/partner of OpEx Realization Group, LLC., and coupled with business leadership experience, he is comfortable in "board room to shop floor" situations.