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Changing the perception of change management

Change is not easy. Effective change management requires deep understanding of how individual attitudes and perceptions affect people’s responses to change, utilising techniques to reduce resistance and creating an environment in which people respond positively to change. Change can be emotionally intense, often creating confusion, frustration or anxiety, and because it can be so draining, it can lead to burnout and can put into motion a cycle that leads to an even greater resistance to change.

It’s highly likely that at some point businesses will face an organisational or structural change, such as mergers, acquisitions or reorganisations, and it’s the role of the leader to deliver news that are likely to affect people’s jobs in ways that create a strong emotional response. People will not change unless they believe in change and naturally they’ll start questioning how the organisational change will affect them personally and professionally. Leaders need to inspire their teams to be creative and enable them to innovate, turning change into an opportunity, rather than seeing it as an obstacle.

Change vs. continuity

It’s a well-known fact that 70 percent of change initiatives fail, mostly due to human factors such as employee resistance to change or lack of management support. On the other hand, when people are fully engaged and invested in change, they are 30 percent more likely to be successful.

Whilst most leaders emphasise on how the envisioned change will result in a better future, a research published by The Academy of Management Journal highlights an equally important aspect of change - continuity. The most common cause of resistance to change is that people feel that the organisation and their team will lose the key values they identify with, creating anxiety about the future. Therefore, effective change leadership should also emphasise on continuity and what will remain the same, despite the uncertainty ahead. To build the case for change and overcome resistance, leaders should communicate the vision of change in combination with a vision of continuity.

What success looks like

Even the most carefully planned change programmes can fail because of poor implementation. According to a McKinsey survey of over 2000 executives in 900 companies across various industries the greatest impact on a major change effort comes from ownership of and commitment to change. Both, for successful and unsuccessful transformations, about two thirds of respondents stated that the single most significant factor influencing the outcome of a change programme is the degree of commitment and ownership of the leadership team. Businesses with a track record of successful transformational projects foster a leadership style which sets ambitious aspirations with clear accountability, focusing on supportive leadership over authoritative approach. Leaders who are able to create an empowered climate, build trust and give support to their teams, are able to positively influence people’s perception of change.

At Acumen we pride ourselves in offering learning solutions that help leaders and their teams to drive success. We offer an extensive menu of courses, ranging from presentation skills through to customer service events and executive leadership development. Our Change Management programme is designed for those who are leaders of their own teams and who wish to implement change. The programme helps leaders to understand organisational change processes that include creativity and innovation through motivation, leadership and excellent communication; deal with resistance to change and create an empowered climate, built on trust and support. To find out more, please contact Simon at

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