Leaders Supporting Organisation Change
Nancy Kaur
20 May 2021

Organisations today face unprecedented levels of change with continual organisational transformation being the norm. Effective change relies on a confluence of numerous factors.  One of those factors is leadership. 

There is a vast body of knowledge on how to effect lasting, positive organisatonal change.

If you are a leader and are currently facing a major change or involved in one that is currently lumbering along, here are three of the most common undermining issues of organisational change.

  • Underestimating the work. 

    Most leaders would prefer transformational change to be easier than it is. By its very nature, transformational (radical) change creates disharmony and disruption because it touches the entire organisation.  In contrast, incremental change may be quite simple. 

    This type of change may relate to implementing a new communication platform or launching a new product.  Incremental change only affects discrete sections of the organisation. Despite the type of change, the project needs to be appropriately scoped, resourced, and most importantly integrated.  Every initiative needs to be linked to every other initiative.

    These interlinking changes need to be sequenced and paced in a way that the organisation could productively absorbed.

  • Overestimating the organisation’s capacity. 

    Transformational change starts with an honest assessment of how hard the work will be, how much capacity and discipline the organisation has, and the personal endorsement of senior leaders to change first.  Communicating the change effectively requires listening to the closely to the entire organisation top-down and bottom-up) about the capacity for change. 

    This may mean reducing a number of initiatives that do not relate to the change. 

    Ensuring that there is sufficient capacity to implement the changes at the required time. It is often wise to nominate change champions around this phase.  Those who may want to explore their career options or upskill.  Change champions motivate and can sustain change activities. 

    They give the transformation a boost of credibility as they work closely with the leaders who in turn benefit from this recognition.
  • Misjudging how others see you. Organisational change can make or break a leader’s reputation.  Some leaders inspire others with a sense of excitement and a vision for change.  Other leaders may engage with employees across the organisation and make them feel as if they are part of the change. Transformational change can be personal for every employee. 

    However, it is important for leaders to project and deliver with personal integrity.  They need to be mindful that leading organisational change is representing the team, section, and even the organisation.

    This means, that leaders need to be trustworthy and must ‘walk their talk’.

Organisational change can be exhausting, frustrating, and even distressing.  I have endured many change events and initiatives.  Therefore, have been small incremental changes that my team has implemented.  And then there are others where an entire organisation has merged with another.  If you are in the midst of organisational change. It is important to admit how hard it will be. 

There are many obstacles that will test your resilience and optimism. Although, if you do the necessary work to prepare yourself and your organisation for the journey then, navigating these obstacles could be rewarding and professionally satisfying.

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