New research by global best practice insight and technology company CEB Global has found that the average organisation has experienced five enterprise-wide changes in the past three years. If you work in an ASX 200 company, or large government organisation, no doubt you’re familiar with the type of major changes undertaken. They range from technology upgrades or adoptions, to restructures through to mergers and acquisitions. It will also come as no surprise to you that only a third of these major changes are rated as a “clear success”. Out of the 400 major change initiatives analysed by CEB 50% where found to be rated a “clear failure” and 16% where described as producing “mixed results”.
As reported by CEB Global, the principle cause of major change project failures was leadership, that is the “top down” leadership behaviour adopted by senior leaders. Top down leadership fails in change management because leaders are directive, they fail to create meaning around change, they communicate (rather than discuss or converse) with staff (who often don’t understand what’s being presented) and focus on task deliverables – it’s hardly engaging. This certainly resonates with our experience at Genos. Throughout our 15-year history we’ve been asked by many organisations to step in and help turn around derailed major change projects. Ninety percent of the time this work involves improving the mindset and behaviour leaders adopt in change projects from “top down” to “bottom up”.In a bottom up approach, leaders play a facilitator role encouraging staff to actively participate in every aspect of change from:
- Defining the rationale for it, to
- Making and shaping change decisions, through to
- Delegating actions and holding each other accountable.
Enhancing leaders’ emotional intelligence, as a strategy for ensuring major change projects are a “clear success”, also works to improve leaders’ resilience. There is a strong positive correlation between leaders’ emotional intelligence and their resilience, which is a very important competency in a change environment. In major change projects leaders are often exposed to the effects of change whilst at the same time being responsible for delivering change outcomes. CEB Global reports that in 2016, 13% of leadership positions were made redundant and 31% of leaders found themselves in newly created positions. In addition to this, most leaders find themselves with broader responsibilities to manage having bigger teams, more stakeholders and greater portfolios. For insight into the impact improving leaders’ emotional intelligence can have on change projects, read this Case Study.