When Jon called, things were not going well. He was leading a project team charged with developing a new platform that would combine both hardware and software into a singular solution for customers. The team was running behind schedule and stood to lose tens of millions of dollars. He was looking for solutions, and hoping that Bright Side could help.
We learned the team had solid strategies and plans in place for getting the work accomplished. Yet, the team members lacked the desire to constructively challenge one another, which interfered with their ability to commit to the comprehensive targets that would enable them to develop their new customer solution. The team recognized they weren’t making progress, resulting in low morale. Most everyone believed this was an insurmountable battle and gave up.
This situation is more common than what you might think. According to recent research and survey findings:
- 82% of employees in companies with significant organization-wide initiatives underway believe those projects will fail.
- 78% are currently working on a “doomed” project.
- 90% knew early on the project would likely fall short of the objectives.
- 77% describe these projects as “slow motion train wrecks.”
- 81% believe it is impossible to approach the failing project’s key decision-maker.
If your employees believe projects are doomed to fail, what chance of success do they stand?
I think the answer is pretty obvious: not much.
The encouraging news is that there are three proven strategies for significantly enhancing the success of organizational change initiatives.
1. Employee involvement. When employees believe failure is around the corner, it’s a sure-fire sign that they haven’t been sufficiently engaged in the process. Change will only take root and be sustainable when employees are fully involved and engaged.
2. Leadership commitment. Time and again we’ve been called in to help businesses where change initiatives are failing, and one of the biggest offenders is leaders not modeling the behaviors they claim to want. Lead from the front, and provide ample coaching and development to staff.
3. Clarity of communications. Make it clear, make it clear, make it clear. Communication needs to be transparent, timely, accurate and complete. Put a premium on dialogue and input.
Your workforce will be more energized, more engaged and more committed to making change work by focusing on these three strategies.
What change initiatives are currently underway or planned in your organization? Have you taken a pulse of your employees’ views of these changes? Using the three strategies above, what can you do as a leader to:
- Risk engaging employees in the change process
- Risk ensuring that everyone is on the same page
- Risk promoting creative problem solving
- Risk getting employee input and feedback
- Risk recognizing and celebrating change leaders at all levels of the organization
Share the results of your experiment in the comments below or contact the author directly at
DONNA RAE SMITH is a guest blogger for Smart Business. She has forged a career, enterprise and an applied discipline on the practice of teaching leaders to be masters of change. She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc., a transformational change catalyst company with an emphasis on the behavior-side of change. For more than two decades, Donna Rae Smith and the Bright Side team have been recognized as innovators in executing behavioral strategies coalesced with business strategies to accelerate and sustain business results. Bright Side®, The Behavioral Strategy Company, has partnered with over 250 of the world’s most influential companies. For more information, please visit www.bright-side.com or contact Donna Rae at
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