Executive Development Blog

Why Change Initiatives Fail

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 12, 2015 1:57:59 PM


A 2012 study by Capgemini found that in these volatile times, change management should be a core competency in most organizations, yet its survey of Norwegian business leaders found that 45 percent of all companies currently do not excel at change management. So what does managing change effectively entail? The study found three areas in which organizations should strive to improve when implementing change initiatives:

1. Organizations should have a clear vision of the change initiative’s desired outcome and foster a positive organizational culture that supports change initiatives. 

2. Change initiative strategies should be better aligned with underlying organizational needs. 

3. Organizations should make a better effort to link change initiatives with economic results.

David Leonard and Claude Coltea from Gallup assert that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail because change agents overlook the role front-line managers play in the success of the initiative.  They also claim that HR professionals fail to develop in front-line managers the exact actions they need to take to make the changes happen. The main take away from Leonard and Coltea is the need to invest the time and the resources to achieve front-line manager support to a level where they drive the change as if they themselves made the decision. 

Other reasons why change initiatives fail include: Change-Management-

  • The lack of a clearly communicated strategy to stakeholders such as employees and customers. 
  • The lack of support and buy-in by key organizational leaders. Even if the change initiative is small in scope, senior leaders must be aware of it, understand why it is important to the organization as a whole, and “own” it as if the decision is in the best interests of their own employees.
  • Senior leaders’ failure to understand the change initiative’s relevance and the failure to measure the change initiative’s progress.
  • The lack of sufficient technology to implement and sustain the change initiative. 
  • The lack of positive and transparent reinforcement.
  • A lack of understanding about how the change will actually impact employees. 

Failed change management initiatives can reduce employee productivity and morale and increase employee turnover. HR professionals can play a vital role in ensuring that change management initiatives succeed by getting onboard early in the planning process. HR can ensure that all employees—from front-line to senior leadership levels—have the skills and abilities needed to embrace the necessary changes, can help communicate the change initiative strategy to employees, and can make sure that employee reward and recognition is properly aligned. 

To continue reading about change initiatives and successful implementation, download a copy of UNC's white paper titled, "Making Change Work."

Click to Download Full White Paper

Recognizing the importance of successful change initiatives, UNC Executive Development has designed a 3-day Change Management program on this subject.  The program trains senior managers to enhance their organizational effectiveness and ensure long-term success by initiation, leading and managing organizational change.