Avoid these pitfalls when you're talking about Change Management

change leadership change management pitfalls Jun 18, 2023
Lata in a white top looking at the camera; text: Avoid these pitfalls when you're talking about Change Management

Change Management is one of the fastest-growing professions and it’s no surprise why. In a world where digital transformation, technology, automation and AI is fuelling exponential pace of change on top of all the traditional organisational changes (think op models, processes, compliance, regulatory, culture, M&A, divestments and more), we need dedicated focus on the experience and potential of people to make sure the changes are successful in the short-term and sustained in the long-term. But Change is still a fledgling concept, especially in fast-growing medium-sized organisations who are looking to consolidate and optimise their operations to shore up future growth. 


When you’re talking about Change Management - whether in a big corporate, a medium-sized company, or a savvy start-up - watch out for these 4 key pitfalls that can be your Change downfall:


Pitfall #1: Assuming everyone knows what Change Management is and how to deliver it

Change Management has been around long enough for a lot of people to have heard of it, use the term/concept, and pretend they know what it is. Very few people out there have actually studied Change Management properly, practised in it as their full-time job, and used Change Management tools and approaches to add real value to the work they are doing. Sadly, even experienced practitioners who have been in Change for years may have a very vague and loose idea of their role and responsibilities and results, which waters down the value of Change Management holistically for everyone. Most of the information and learning out there about Change focuses on theory, models and tick-the-box methodology instead of how to actually “do” change and build the confidence to flex and flow with different practical tools and approaches to add as much value as possible in the moment. So when you’re going into an organisation, project or team, teach as you go. You don’t need to Change-splain (haha, I just made that term up but I love it!), instead go: “I just want to level set everyone on how I approach change” and explain why and how you’re going to help them and work together. Doing this upfront can save a lot of surprise and stress later on (ask me how I know!).

Pitfall #2: Using the term “Change Management” as a softener for specific types of change

Way before my time in Change, it seems Change Management was used across the world as a euphemism for restructures, layoffs, redundancies and operating model changes. You’ll sometimes hear people say: “I’ve gone through Change Management,” but what they mean to say is: “I’ve gone through redundancy and redeployment.” It has left a very bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, not to mention a lot of fear anytime the word “change” is mentioned. Some of my students in Leading Successful Change have wondered whether they should even call what they do “Change Management”. There are so many different types of organisational change (see above!) and if we want to help people build change acceptance and change resilience, we need to change the meaning of Change Management for them. Use the term for what it is: “The process of moving people from doing things in one way to doing things another way through communications, training and business readiness to realise the business benefits of the change.” Take away the stigma, take away the scare, let relief and ease flow back into people’s hearts. 

Pitfall #3: Focusing too heavily on the risks or areas of improvement

I’ll put my hand up and say I’m very good at identifying, projecting, and sharing back risks, issues, root causes to process and people problems, and areas and ideas for improvement. It’s probably what makes me a great Change Manager. But sometimes even I have to hold myself back and only give a project or a client the amount of information they can handle at one time. Too much risk, too much fear, too much to remediate and you might end up in a stalemate of overwhelm and shock where nothing happens and there’s no steps forward. In Leading Successful Change, we talk a lot about “calibrating through hope, not fear”. There are definitely times when you need to point out the obvious elephant in the room, where you need to rip the bandaid off the wound and expose the mess beneath, and you need to create a burning platform for change. Use it sparingly and use it wisely - you win more flies with honey and the carrot is always more palatable. You can interrupt, shake people up and wake people up with inspiration and empowerment for the future - you don’t always have to lean into the problems of the past. 

Pitfall #4: Putting too much in the scope of Change Management

Guilty as charged! As per my confession above, sometimes I see soooo much that needs to be done or needs to happen in a project, team or client organisation that I seriously and completely have to sit on my hands to stop myself from saying “I’ll do it! I’ll fix it!” I am very clear on the scope of Change Management - there are a whole suite of project and business professionals who have their own skill sets and expertises to fill those gaps (we go through this in Module 1 of Leading Successful Change). But I also want to do everything I can to ensure success and sometimes that means stepping up to do some Project Management, sitting down to do some process mapping, or even jumping into forums and sessions to do some customer experience or client liaison work. What’s important is that I always let my leader make the decision - not only because I am accountable to them for the time I spend and extra discretionary work I do beyond the realm of Change, but also because they need to know it might set up unrealistic expectations for Change peers in other projects or Change talent that follows me. You don’t have to do and be everything in Change Management and fill all the gaps and in fact that’s why I love consulting: I simply make it a value-add to my Statement of Work so it’s clear to my client that it’s beyond the traditional baseline of Change.



We cover a lot of these types of Change Management challenges in our Leading Successful Change Monthly Coaching Calls. Replays are provided within 24 hours and the back catalogue of calls and topics is available in the course portal. If you've experienced it, we've probably solved it!!


Leading Successful Change is my flagship program where I help you find a life of flexibility, freedom, financial abundance and fulfilment by building the confidence to lead change end-to-end.

The course investment for my Leading Successful Change Program will be going up on 1 July 2023, so if you've been thinking about making the move to Change or stepping up in your change career, take advantage of the current pricing and join LSC before the end of June.


CLICK HERE to join Leading Successful Change before the course investment goes up on 1 July


Lata xx

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