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Top 10 Change Management Issues and How to Handle Them

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 5/19/2011

The world of change management is often fuzzy to some managers. Sure we get what it means, but what happens when a change management issues comes upon us and we have no idea how to deal with the issue? Here, you’ll find the top 10 change problems along with tips on handling them the right way.

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    What Is Change Management?

    Briefly put, change management means when something, a process, a new building, new ideas, new workspaces, new anything within your organization changes, you need to be prepared for resistance or change negativity—because as the saying goes, people don’t like change.

    When dealing with change management issues, you need to consider the issue itself, the person, and then find the right way to correct the problem. Below you’ll find the top 10 change management situations and how to handle them.

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    Top Change Issues: One - Five

    PA183171 Morgue File 1. Change at the Helm

    If you bring in a new leader, expect a lot of change resistance, especially if some workers feel they should have been chosen for the job. To handle this, you must gather your group first and explain why the person was chosen, what they will (not can) be able to offer, and how it will make all of their jobs easier. For those who still resist, the new manager and you should speak individually to the person.

    2. Communication

    This is one of the top change management issues as seen in the failure to communicate when a change occurs or is about to occur. If processes, procedures, management, or even the redesigning of a workspace is never communicated to employees or staff, you will indeed face anger and resistance. No matter how large or small a change may be, if employees are left out or are never aware of the change, it can be disruptive. Establish a good form of company-wide communication and use it to announce change and give employees a chance to ask questions.

    3. This Is How We Do It Now

    Some managers can get so frustrated at employee efforts that they devise an entire new system based on customer or client complaints. This can be a good thing as long as the employees know it is coming. You should never just throw a plan at your team and say, “forget the old way, this is how we do it now,” without explaining the reason for the change.

    4. Low on the Totem Pole

    Many managers or business owners forget about informing staff that are in lower placement positions that certain elements will be changing. Often this can bring comments from you like, “you should have been aware of the change.” How can they know about the change if they were never told? Don’t expect immediate supervisors to handle company-wide change, that’s your job and overlooked employees often fall within this category.

    5. Swift Change

    Another one of the top change management issues is changing something too swiftly and not allowing staff to get used to the idea. If your company or department will be involved in large changes, consider making the change in stages so employees can embrace the change and engage in it gradually.

    Image Credit: MorgueFile

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    Top Change Management Issues: 6 - 10

    Dave Stressed Morgue File Continuing with out top ten change management issues, here are items six through ten that you may have to deal with:

    6. No Training

    If an expected change will require new training and none is offered, you can bet on resistance and lots of it. Training new ways or techniques within a company is important, especially if you have a wide generational age of employees who communicate and learn differently. Devise the appropriate training plan to prevent this problem.

    7. The Change Isn’t Working

    If staff responds to change in a negative way by implying the change (or process) doesn’t work, ask yourself why they think it’s not working? Are there defects in the model or mode of change? Or, are you experiencing change resistance due to lack of communication. Before the change is implemented, explain you may have some rocks in the road and tell your staff what you’ve planned for when they occur.

    8. Misery Loves Company

    This change management issue is often forefront when change occurs. You may have only one staff member who hates the change, but will do everything in their power to ensure everyone else hates the change too. Identify these people and speak to them individually. Very often, it’s not the change; it’s another problem, perhaps even a personal problem.

    9. Wishy-Washy Change

    Some companies or departments implement change and then don’t follow through. The idea behind the change may have been thought out but how to implement the change may not be clear. This can result in everyone just going back to the old way, especially if supervisors and team leaders don’t reinforce the change and allow employees to avoid the change and then do nothing about it.

    10. Totally Unaccepted Changes

    The last of our top ten change management issues is determining if a change will be good or bad. It is really that simple. A good idea on paper may not consider the human element and, therefore, not work at all, no matter how well thought out. Change in any area, no matter how large or small should be discussed and involve the people it will effect on every level. Allow for input from staff and consider that input wisely and compare it to your written change plan. Often, a competitor’s idea of change that worked doesn’t mean it will work for you.

    Image Credit: Morgue File