Keys to Managing Change Successfully and Avoiding the Nine Most Common Pitfalls
by Marie Kane

Dealing with change, great and small, is a fact of life in today’s companies. When change is handled well, the credibility of the company with everyone affected, as well as everyone who hears about it, is enhanced. But, when change is handled badly, the credibility and employee morale are significantly damaged resulting in negative consequences for the company and the people involved. The following are some keys to managing change and some pitfalls of which to be aware.

Four Keys to managing change successfully

  1. Make sure you have identified every person or group with a vested interest in, or who will be impacted by the change, both inside and outside the company, then ensure that your strategy and action plans address these well.

  2. Whenever possible, involve representatives of each affected group in planning or implementing the details of the change plan, before and after the change announcement as appropriate.

  3. Tell the truth.

  4. Do the right thing even if it’s inconvenient or difficult.

Nine Pitfalls to avoid in change situations

  1. Underestimating the speed, strength and impact of the grapevine.

  2. Underestimating the time and effort it will take to handle the change well.

  3. Poor communication including: too little, too late, too soon before you have your act together, badly presented, leaving those with a vested interest out, not truthful, inaccurate, or insensitive.

  4. Inadequate change plans that fail to account for all the proper elements.

  5. Good plans that are badly or only partially implemented.

  6. Disengaging the change process prematurely before every issue, person or group has been properly addressed.

  7. Not involving the right people to get an accurate picture of what needs to be addressed and the best way to do it in the planning process before the change is announced or begun.

  8. Failure to maintain confidentiality to prevent premature leaks about the issue.

  9. Failing to debrief when all is concluded to be certain there are no loose ends and to determine what you have learned of use for next time

One way to get a good overview of any change situation is to use simple mapping techniques that can help you identify the elements to address in any given situation. One of the easiest and most versatile is “Mind Mapping" (also known as the tinker toy or molecular model). You begin with the change situation in a circle in the middle, lines out from that to new circles each of which contain someone or something significantly impacted by the change and then expand that second layer to a third layer.

Consider the last major change you had all or part of the responsibility for planning, managing or implementing (or several if you can). With that change in mind, now ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers. Then file them where you will think of them and can find them the next time you are responsible for planning, managing or implementing a change.

  1. What went right? Why? Based on this, what have I learned that I can apply in a future change situation? Be as specific as you need to for this to make sense and be useful when you look at it next time, whether 6 days or 6 months from now.

  2. What went wrong? Why? Based on this, what have I learned about what not to do that I can apply in a future change situation? Be as specific as you need to for this to make sense and be useful when you look at it next time, whether 6 days or 6 months from now.

Marie Kane is President of Executive Evolution. Since 1981 Marie has provided executive consulting and coaching services to help clients develop and implement the right strategy, leverage the company's human talent, and create optimal culture and communication. Her services include leadership, executive, management and team development, strategic and operational planning, employee selection, retention and development, change management, conflict resolution and a variety of profiles and assessments, including 360’s. She is the author of the TEAMS assessment and creator of “The Leaders Way - Discovering the Inner Art of Leadership” program. You can reach Marie at 770-461-3820 or Visit for additional insight.

Many more articles in Leading Change in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2006 by Marie Kane. All rights reserved.

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