5 Mistakes Leaders Make When It Comes to Change

Over the years I have helped leadership teams with change initiatives from navigating healthcare reform to blending cultures following a merger, and many things in between. It goes without saying that I have observed my share of mistakes.

You must give your team and staff time to process the change.

Here are five common change pitfalls:

1. Inconsistent communication.

To make change happen you must have a communication strategy that is implemented consistently across all the leaders and influencers in the organization.

2. Ignoring the emotional impact of change.

You must give your team and staff time to process the change. No matter how big or small the change initiative is there will be pain and discomfort. Even a small change can trigger an emotional reaction. No matter how rational and logical the change is you must remember people are emotional beings not logical beings.

Don’t apply logical solutions to emotional beings.

3. Not giving people enough time to jump on board.

Late adopters are often negatively interpreted as resisters when, in fact, they simply may need more time to process and understand the change. Often this occurs when a leadership team heads out to a retreat and comes back expecting the troops to embrace something immediately that they are just hearing about for the first time.

4. Failure to listen to naysayers.

It is difficult to influence people who don’t feel heard. Remember that listening does not mean you agree. Taking the time to listen gives you information and ideas on how to design your change and communication strategy. Naysayers also help you shore up your plans and address problems before they occur.

It’s not that people don’t like change, it’s that they don’t like the way it’s implemented.

5. Thinking "yes" means commitment.

There are so many reasons people do this that you would have to get a PhD in psychology to understand it. The best way to deal with this is to not believe that "yes" means commitment. Instead observe behavior and habits. Spend your energy identifying ways you can help support the commitment.

What do you think the biggest mistake leaders make when it comes to change? Please add to the conversation – comment below or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.