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Change management: Common mistakes to avoid when leading change

By Victoria Harrer, Organizational Change Management Practice Lead, Arbela Technologies

Strong effective leadership is the key to a successful business transformation. Studies show that the level of leadership has a direct impact on whether projects are successful and meet objectives. Unfortunately, all too often, leaders are only involved at the beginning of projects to announce the change then walk away. This leads to poor or ineffective leadership which has been ranked as the number one obstacle to success for major change projects.

Leadership has an essential role to play during times of change. Employees look to leaders to communicate and demonstrate why a change is necessary. Leaders provide the authority and credibility necessary for successful organizational change. When leaders are inactive, not properly aligned with other leaders around the change, or wavering in their support for the change the result is increased resistance and slower progress toward realizing the organization’s desired results.

Here are some common mistakes leaders make during a change initiative and how to avoid them.

1. Not remaining active and visible throughout the life of the project
As a leader you are the face of the change. You are responsible for communicating the business WHY for the change to the organization. Employees look to leadership for messages that indicate the importance and commitment to the change. If a leader is not engaged and active this will convey a lack of commitment by the organization.

2. Underestimating the impact of the change
It is important to assess the readiness of the organization for the change as part of planning and building a comprehensive change management strategy at the initiation of the project. Assess your current organizational policies and programs, these may need to change or be updated in order to adopt new behaviors by the stakeholder group. Develop a robust work plan that clearly defines roles, responsibilities and identifies the key decisions that must be made.

3. Neglecting to accurately communicate the need for change
As a leader, it is important to define a clear vision for the change; clarify the purpose, scope, and expected outcomes, include the impact to people and the organizational. Work to create a shared need to help build alignment on a compelling case for the change that addresses “Why is this critical? Why now?” Develop a clear picture of what the transformed business will look like after the change has been fully implemented and use the vision of success to inspire commitment and engage your people.

4. Delegating the leadership role and responsibilities
Instead of delegating the leadership role to a subordinate or the project manager, build a change network within your executive team, managers and business unit leads to support the change, drive excitement and grow adoption of improved ways of working. The change network will help to identify business challenges and provide possible solutions; and work closely with the stakeholders to mitigate resistance to the change.

5. Failing to support the project in words and actions
Leaders need to communicate directly with stakeholders the importance of adoption and the progress of the project. Don’t assume the change is obvious, rational or logical, and don't think it does not require any direct support. Work to empower your project team so they can successfully execute the business goals of the project. Be an active champion of the change by being a first adopter.

Learn more about Arbela's change management services and how it can help achieve your business objectives for implementing Dynamics 365.