Many transformations fail not due to poor planning or inadequate resources and capability, although these are significant risks to mitigate, but through a failure to engage and prepare people adequately to adopt new ways of working. Katie Nightingale explores the challenges that organisations and their people may face when going through change.

Transformation failure is often a symptom of a lack of focus, or limited investment in the human element of a programme, resulting in, at best, indifference, or at worst, active resistance towards the changes to be realised. Although many large-scale programmes and projects being run today do have change management workstreams, the quality of these can vary greatly. The foundations of the human element of change are, in part, simple, but the execution is nuanced. Getting it right relies on the creation of a change strategy that works in the context of the type of change, the type of organisation, the organisation’s culture and the previous experience and motivations of people across the business.  


A tailored, agile, and timely change-management approach

By putting behavioural change at the heart of your approach and ensuring your people are considered and supported, you’ll begin to see positive engagement through the change programme.

Change strategy and leadership alignment

Having a robust change strategy in place, which is clearly articulated, and which leaders are aligned on, is a core foundation. This provides the guiding light for what and how you engage with your people on it. Leaders are vital in driving it through from the top down, and they require the tools and support to do this. They're also stronger as a collective working together than as individuals working in silos.

Understanding your people impacted by change

Who is going to be impacted by the change, when and by how much, is essential knowledge and insight that needs to be acquired early on in the mobilisation of a transformation programme. This should be paired with understanding individuals’ motivations to allow for tailored engagements with your people, ensuring you win their hearts and minds, to enable successful adoption of the change.

Change lead

We often see change as an afterthought or an activity that's tagged onto one project team member's role, who has little capacity to provide the right level of focus to essential activities. Having a dedicated resource driving the change through the programme and into the business is a vital role to include in your programme team resource plan. Like any project or programme, your change leads should be in constant dialogue with interdependent workstreams, projects, and programmes and should be considered key personnel in any project team. Give change a voice and ensure there’s adequate airtime for change, training and communications strategies to be agreed within steering committees, while trialling and testing what works best for your business and the people within it.

Dedicated change workstreams

A common failure of transformation programmes is change management activities operating in a silo. Change management should be a workstream that underpins all your transformation plans. This ensures that not only will change management not operate in a silo, but that it moves with changing business and transformation requirements. This is the best way to ensure that you have tailored, adaptable, and agile change management plans.

Change champions

Change may start with a well-articulated strategy and an aligned leadership team, but the real success of sustained change comes through your people who champion the changes to be seen. Role modelling the required behaviours, supporting local teams, and providing vital feedback to the project and leadership team through the programme are just some of the benefits of creating a network of Change Champions. 

Alignment and agility

One constant in a transformation is that change is inevitable and change activities should be intrinsically linked to the transformation programme activities and cognisant of the wider business and any related impacts on your people. Agility is vital to adapt and respond quickly to changing requirements, but still keeping the benefits to be realised in full focus. Ensuring you have agreed key performance indicators (KPIs) in place to measure programme the benefits to be seen is vital to show the return on investment of the programme.


Setting your transformation programme up for success

It's important for businesses to assess the extent of the change required and how change ready an organisation is. A diagnostic tool can capture this analysis and highlight the focus areas. Providing your company with a view of the change management considerations. We know from our own diagnostic tool that this will allow for early action to ensure the right change management approach is aligned to your programme and organisational needs.


Change is only possible with people

Transformation cannot take place without controlled and high-quality change management. You know your business best and you know that your people are your greatest asset – so the change needs to resonate with them. Combining your knowledge, with the best-in-class approaches to change, will ensure that you truly create a unique style that enables it to land within your business and most importantly, the people within it.


For more insight and guidance, get in touch with Katie Nightingale or Carolyn Hicks.