For Any Change to be Successful, You Must Create Conditions for it to Work
— June 7th, 2023
If you have ever had a fantastic idea that shriveled and died before it even made an impact, you are not alone.
Most changes in businesses of any size fail because the tremendous new big idea just didn't get across the line.
Some people just turn away, defeated, and vow never to try again; others are determined to give it another go and end up bashing their heads against the brick wall of defeat and resignation.
For any change to be successful, you must create conditions for it to work. Understanding what those conditions are is the challenge that beats the majority of business owners and executives.
The conditions of your business are like the lines, net, racquet, ball, and the rules of the game of tennis. Imagine what would happen if you tried to play badminton on a tennis court!
The Ultimate Guide to Change Management Communication
In your business, you know what you want the end result to look and feel like. You have a vision of how the changes will improve business performance. Now comes the challenging part, making it happen the way you envision it.
Pushing change down from the top only gets as far as the people who have bought into the great new idea, then it hits resistance—like boiling hot lava meeting ice-cold water. It solidifies and creates a barrier to any further progress. The more lava, the greater the barrier becomes.
Initiating change from the bottom up is entirely different. You warm the ice-cold water gently, one team at a time. Small groups of people engage with the new idea, and team by team, the new idea spreads quickly through the organization.
This sounds fairly simple and straightforward, but the reality is none of this is possible without the right internal communications (IC) strategy and plan in place.
If the goal is to rally groups of your people around a shared purpose with the aim of driving organisational change success, they need to be prepared for that gentle warming of the ice-cold water. Otherwise, the surprise in temperature change will create resistance.
Gone are the days when your IC was simply about keeping your people informed. Today, it’s the tool that creates a robust relationship between a business and its employees.
Nothing happens, moves or changes without communication. It’s the thing that creates the action you need your people to take in an organisation; it’s the thing that turns your strategy into action; more importantly, it’s how you create a following when change is on the horizon. But the workforce can’t successfully follow your lead if they don’t know where you’re going!
Keeping the workforce fully engaged with change requires purposeful IC rather than a scatter-gun of information. It’s important they see and understand their role in, and the benefits of, the change for it to be successful.
The power of an activated workforce affects both the external perception of the business and its performance, as a direct result of employee comprehension of the goals and required change.
But successful change requires the right internal conditions, clear expectations, and timelines to drive positive action from individuals, all of which is impossible without a comprehensive IC strategy and plan.
A key condition is the expected behavior of individuals with each other, and in the business generally. Without a comprehensive IC plan, there will be voids of expectations.
Humans hate voids and when they come across them they will invent behaviors to fill the gap, behaviors that are often contrary to the desired changes. This is not the fault of the people; it is the fault of the organizational design, and in particular, the lack of a comprehensive IC plan.
As the leader or "champion" of the desired changes, creating the right conditions for change to succeed is vital.