The 3 Cs of successful leadership in change management

Sep 11, 2019
  • IT
  • automotive
  • chemicals

According to Gartner research, an employee is confronted nowadays with, on average, three major changes per year, compared to only two in 2012. Three-quarters of all organizations expect that these changes will follow each other at an increasingly rapid pace. That means change management is here to stay. However, during a round-table discussion organized by delaware, the participants acknowledged that change management is included in only 40% of IT projects. 

Lack of time, keeping the momentum throughout the entire project and lack of management support to lead by example were cited as the most common obstacles to include change management. Not having a visible sponsor is the primary reason for failure of any project. Quite remarkably, finding the required budget is only fourth in that list. Research by change management organization Prosci reports similar obstacles:

  • Lack of executive support and active sponsorship
  • Inadequate change management buy-in and resourcing
  • Resistance and lack of support for the specific solution
  • Change-resistant culture and organizational structure
  • Change saturation and lack of prioritization

A multi-faceted approach for continued success

According to our six round-table participants the lack of sponsorship is often because senior executives mistakenly believe that change management and communication towards the different stakeholders will automatically be part of the implementation approach. But, in reality, change management doesn’t happen naturally. It requires a holistic, multi-faceted approach taking into account leadership (since humans are copycats by nature), communication (on the why, the ‘what’s in it for me’, the how and the when of the changes), training and the right organization and process design (stimulating the change). 

The 3 Cs

Successful leaders in change management will always respect the 3 Cs:

  1. Communication: inform employees on the why of the changes
  2. Collaboration: to stimulate employees to break out of their silos and to overcome resistance on the middle management level
  3. Commitment: it is vital that their own beliefs and behaviors support the change

This commitment may be the primary role of the executive sponsor. As one of our round-table participants put it, based on Peter Drucker’s quote: “Culture eats change for breakfast”. When employees are confronted with multiple, perhaps even simultaneous changes, you need a company culture that navigates employees adequately through the changes. It should also stimulate them to continuously learn and reskill themselves. Sponsors have a crucial role to play in creating that cultural mindset. 

Changing change management

In our current digital era, the importance of change management continues to rise. What’s more, digital transformation may even require new ways of supporting change management. According to McKinsey, the success rate of digital transformation journeys is lower than that of organizational transformations. Often because a clear vision about why new technologies are being introduced is lacking. 

Furthermore, since digital transformation usually involves making big changes across multiple aspects of the business, conventional linear change management, with a beginning and an end, will no longer do the trick. This is why leaders must increasingly orchestrate transformation instead of ‘managing’ it. Orchestration involves mobilizing and enabling different resources in an organization using the power of networks to achieve transformation goals. The commitment of senior executives will thus become an even more crucial success factor.  

Do you want to learn more about delaware’s experience in change management? Read our white paper, based on survey findings and the round-table debate, or simply get in touch and meet us over a cup of coffee. 

Build a culture where change is embraced as an enabler of progress

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