Thought Leadership Articles

    The Importance of Change Management in Challenging Times

    Nov 25, 2022 | Posted by David Lee

    The future is uncertain

    This has never been more true. As we emerge from the pandemic into a time of geopolitical turmoil, we are seeing the signs of tough times ahead. Inflation is high, oil prices are volatile, supply chains are threatened, stock markets are down, interest rates are rising, earning reports for many are below expectations, and organisations are starting to cut back to make their numbers. Many have already reached this conclusion. A recent survey by the Conference Board and reported by McKinsey found that 81% of leaders are expecting a recession.  

    What's covered in this blog: 

    Free Download: 6 Tactics for Growing Enterprise Change Capability


    Change is Accelerating 

    This has never been more true. While we can all agree that change is a constant, in recent years has been faster and more complex. But rest assured, we haven’t seen anything yet. Economic uncertainty means that leaders are expected to adapt to ensure their stakeholders see them doing their best to protect stakeholder interests. Inevitably, this means more and more intense change. 


    This is an opportunity not a curse 

    How companies approach change in these times can determine how competitive they are in the long-term. When things are good, leaders often struggle to make positive change because they are missing the “burning bridge” to create urgency. When things are economically challenging however, the business case writes itself. At the same time, leaders can forget that even when the change is about cost cutting, efficiency building, or generally doing more with less, the people side of these changes is just as, if not more, important. Even in the best circumstances, landing change is difficult and not landing it is consequential. But, when faced with economic challenges, getting it right is essential. Leaders cannot afford to miss, they cannot afford to rework projects, and they have little margin for error.  

    “We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” 

    —Lee Lacocca 

    But how do leaders make critical long-term decisions when their focus in on the short-term? Smart leaders consider how to use such periods as opportunities to institute positive change, to create agility, and to integrate solid change management practices into their business.  

    Free Download: Improving the level of organisational Change Management maturity across a number of government clients


    Don't waste your chance to make positive change happen

    Unfortunately, many leaders’ approach to change during such times can forget the people side. Leaders are expected to act quickly. They plan and execute change faster. They have less time for analysis and consider fewer options. They start to make assumptions based on worst case scenarios, often over correcting, and they do it all with less communication and employee engagement because they want to avoid instilling fear. As a result, they get less input, fail to test assumptions, and often create greater resistance. 

    Utilize a Structured Approach

    When implementing change, leaders can take for granted that people are happy to retain their jobs and will do what is required to adopt change. However, this is not necessarily the case. In such times, it is even more important to keep employees engaged and effective. Without a systematic approach to necessary change, leaders can find that people will, at the very least, passively resist change and possibly become more actively resistant because they feel the impact more acutely.  

    Here is what leaders of great change must do to ensure their employees are engaged with change:  

    • Do all you can to make people aware of the need for changes  
    • Ensure that your employees understand the value the changes will bring 
    • Have the skills to be effective with the changes  
    • Ensure your employees are willing to be continue to be productive during and after the changes 

    From a Prosci® perspective this can be articulated by the ADKAR model for individual change. This model describes how people move through change and how leaders can help remove the barriers to successful transitions.  

    Free Download: Why building Change Capability is a smart investment


    Make Change Management an Imperative

    Just as resistance can be heightened through a poor approach toward change, managing change well can be rejuvenating and build greater resilience. When we prepare, equip and support people for changes in challenging times, leaders not only raise the probability of achieving the results we want in the short-term, they increase the company’s capability to manage change in the future. Using effective change management during such times can: 

    • Help you to not only survive but thrive in challenging times 
    • Raise employee engagement and satisfaction long-term 
    • Build a platform of successful change ongoing 
    • Increase your agility for future growth  
    • Make your organisation less fragile when the next crisis arises 

    So, while your instinct might be to reduce you investment in change management capability building during times of economic uncertainty, think twice. Building your capabilities now, when you have the imperative, can mean building a lasting competitive advantage.  

    Now more than ever, leaders are facing fast, complex changes, your employees are looking at you to guide and lead them through change. 

    What's next?

    To that end, think of CMC as a resource. We are happy to listen to your needs and point you in the right direction. 

    You may also wish to consider our Sponsor Briefing Workshop or attend an upcoming Prosci Change Management Practitioner Certification Programme where you can apply Prosci’s analytical tools and practical approaches to your change initiatives, helping you build organisational awareness and capability in change management.  

    During the course, you will learn how to apply Prosci’s methodology to an existing project and network with other change leaders. Download our Change Management Practitioner Certification Programme Brochure our Change Management Practitioner Certification Programme Brochure to find out more about the course. If you’d like to explore more in depth how CMC Global can facilitate private workshops for your organisation you can get in touch with us, we will be happy to listen and help!   

    Topics: Difficulties of Change Management


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