6 change management myths debunked

6 Change Management Myths Debunked

Change can be a scary thing – even when it is planned out. When it is forced upon you – like when a global pandemic strikes and turns the world upside down – it can be downright terrifying. We are facing a time of great uncertainty right now, both in our personal and professional lives. We have been forced to adapt quickly. Some businesses have had to close, many people are working remotely for the first time ever, and there are a lot more changes that must happen as we move forward into a ‘new normal.’ You will have to face these changes head-on, and I want you to do so confidently.

If you are holding onto any of the faulty beliefs mentioned in this article, there is no better time to release them than NOW.

Time to Let Go of These 6 Change Management Myths

The ability of your organization to adapt and change in times of uncertainty and economic downturn can mean the difference between falling behind the competition or leading the pack. By letting go of these change management myths, you can more successfully implement changes that will put your organization ahead.

Myth #1: When it comes to change, people need time to grieve.

This myth can be true in some circumstances—for example, the death of a loved one, leaving your old home for a new one, or switching to a new job. However, with everyday improvements in the office, you can eliminate the ‘grieving period’ simply by being READY for change. This involves fully understanding how the change will impact each individual and team, and supporting them as they migrate to new systems, procedures, and operations.

Myth #2: Change is hard.

Once again, individuals vary, so for some people, change can be difficult. However, for your organization, change shouldn’t be hard if you are prepared for it. This requires formulating a solid plan for enacting that change which includes a strategy for governance, communication, training, and ongoing support. Even changes we are prepared for may take effort—but that is not the same thing as being ‘hard’ or impossible to achieve.

Myth #3: To deal with change, we must know what the future holds.

No one can predict the future, and this goes for businesses that have been doing things the same way for decades as well those who are blazing new trails with their innovative ideas. It is true that when you decide upon a change in your organization, you are putting a stake in the sand. However, you always have to be open to altering those ideas and adjusting when necessary. Remember this: you can navigate change, but you cannot control it. The current pandemic may even force changes on your business or organization that you were not prepared for. Make a plan, be decisive in your actions, and be ready to adjust when needed.

Myth #4: Lofty and ambitious change goals are good.

Having something to strive toward is an excellent motivator in business as well as in life. That said, reaching too high all at once in your change goals can demotivate and discourage your entire team. Goals that are unrealistic and perceived as out of reach can trigger that impending feeling of failure from the start.

6 change management myths debunked - smart goals

A better strategy is to break that larger goal into smaller goals that can be added incrementally. The S.M.A.R.T protocol can help you in goal formation: make sure each goal is specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, relevant, and time-specific.

Myth #5: Resistance is bad.

When you announce a change in your organization, you may find that some people are resistant to that change. This is normal, and it can give you valuable information if you are willing to listen. Avoid trying to solve people’s problems in an effort to move them down the path of change. Research shows that just acknowledging someone’s problems and hearing them out can ease their resistance and bring them closer to embracing change. According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review article, The Power of Listening in Helping People Change:

“In concert, our findings suggest that listening seems to make employees more relaxed, more self-aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses, and more willing to reflect in a non-defensive manner.”

By listening, you will gain valuable insight into how the change impacts various individuals. It also allows you a chance to engage with them so you can harness their energy in a positive way.

Myth #6: Change should always be packaged as a positive.

Sometimes the changes you are implementing in your organization will have negative consequences. You should not try to convince people that the change will be great when it really won’t be. Stick to the facts and be honest with your team. Listen to their concerns and be there to answer questions. Sentences that start with “At least…” (for example, “At least you still have your job.”) are cues that you may be trying to put a positive spin versus confronting the downsides of change head-on.

From Change Management Myths to Realities

Saying goodbye to these change management myths will significantly improve your efforts in implementing change in your organization. And change MUST happen for every business as we adjust to a ‘new normal.’ The reality is that much of your success will come from planning—from carefully selecting attainable goals to the way you communicate the change to your team. The other contributor to success is the opposite of planning—it is your ability to adjust and pivot as needed.

No one has a crystal ball, but we can all do our homework. If you are interested in learning more about leading during change, check out my book Ready…Set…Change Again! for tips and techniques to help you navigate the waves of change.