One of the obstacles facing almost all organizations is change. The pressures of having to react to new market forces in everyday business is continually necessitating organizations to undertake change initiatives. However, many companies fail to some degree at their change initiatives with the worst cases failing completely.
A Towers Watson Survey found that only 25% of employers think they they were able to sustain gains from change initiatives, that’s just 1 in 4.
“Most companies are having a difficult time keeping the momentum of their change management initiatives going,” said Brad Messinger, a senior change management consultant at Towers Watson. “The organizations that are able to sustain change over time are those that focus on the fundamentals that we know drive successful change: communication, training, leadership engagement and measurement. And despite nearly uniform acceptance that these are the key drivers of change, the companies that aren’t good at them aren’t getting any better.”
The survey also found that most companies recognize that managers have an important role to play in managing change. In fact, nearly nine out of 10 respondents (87%) train their managers to manage change. However, less than one-fourth of all respondents (22%) report their training is effective.
Why training fails in change management
What is lacking from traditional change management training is the understanding of the brain and why we as human beings are change resistant. We have 5 times more neural networks to detect threats than rewards and opportunities. It is a given that most, if not all, will initially see any change as a treat.
FACT: Our brains are wired towards failure. In a published series of studies from the University of Chicago, researchers found that we assume that failure is more likely outcome than success, and, as a result we wrongly treat successful outcomes as “flukes” and and failures as proof that change was a bad idea. Our brains evolutionary inclination towards negativity often leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. And when leaders start to believe that change is unlikely (due to the negative reactions of employees) they often time stop supporting the change initiative and it dies.
How we can train better
Providing leaders with a more clear understanding of how the brain reacts to and processes change can have a profound impact in reducing what is referred to as the “productivity dip” in change initiatives. The productivity dip is the period when anger, chaos, and heavy resistance causes a marked decrease in productivity.
Understanding the steps that the brain goes through before it accepts change is key and what needs to be trained.
The mistake that is so often made is that we just force people to change and don’t understand that they need to go through ALL the steps in order to accept the change. Training leaders to understand the steps and how to manage them in people is what can greatly reduce the likelihood of failure and at the same time decrease the time it takes to realize the benefits of the change and ultimately help to sustain it.
Get the Research and read more and Contact us to learn how we can help your organization to train better your leaders to implement change in a way that supports how our brain processes change.
- The Tipping Point of Perceived Change: Asymmetric Thresholds in Diagnosing Improvement Versus Decline
- Making Change easier with Neuroscience
- What Neuroscience Teaches Us About Change Management