Leadership is an essential factor in successful change management. No matter which change management model is used, the role of leadership is critical for the change to be implemented correctly. High-quality leadership, often referred to as “emotional alignment”, is a must for any organization that wants to successfully manage change. Unfortunately, most organizational change efforts fail due to lack of preparation and training.
Organizational changes, such as mergers, acquisitions, and other changes, are a common part of the business world. Leaders need to be prepared to lead change in order to ensure that employees, customers, and patients have positive experiences. Leaders should understand their positions of authority and be equipped with the necessary tools, training, and support to help their organization resist and prevail during times of change. Employees look to their leaders for clarity, connection, and accountability during times of change. Research shows that while 55% of leaders considered that the changes met their initial objectives, long-term change management initiatives were only successful 25% of the time.
Additionally, 87% of leaders said that they had trained their managers to oversee the change management process, but the changes were not sustained. The pandemic was an unexpected event that affected everyone, but managing change also involves traditional and routine events in the business world. Leaders need to embody the change so that employees can see what it should look like and then emulate it. Executive sponsorship is also important; executives who support a project are more likely to participate in it as leaders. The story of change must be emotionally compelling and aimed at engaging employees. Here are three things that leaders can do to make it easier to manage change during mergers, acquisitions or unexpected events:
- Vision of Change: Leaders should create a vision of change that shows how the change will transform the workplace, streamline workflows and improve employees' work skills.
- Emotional Alignment: Leaders should ensure that employees are emotionally aligned with the change by providing them with clarity and connection.
- Training: Leaders should provide training for managers so they can oversee the change management process.
- Communication: Leaders should communicate effectively with all stakeholders involved in the process.
- Strategy: Leaders should develop a strategy for managing the change process.
- Leadership: Leaders should lead by example and demonstrate how they are embracing the changes.
- Motivation: Leaders should motivate employees by providing them with incentives and rewards.
- Support: Leaders should provide support for employees throughout the process.
By providing clarity, connection, and accountability during times of transition, leaders can ensure that their organization is prepared for any unexpected events or regular mergers and acquisitions. Investing in training and equipping leaders with tools and support will help organizations successfully manage any type of organizational changes.