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Why Big Change Can Only Happen If Leaders Focus On Changing Minds Not Policies

change in people not policy

Big change is big news in business, whether in the form of legislation change like pensions or GDPR or indeed simply a step change in terms of business manifestos and corporate policy.

According to a study by BCG, 85% of companies have undertaken a transformation during the past decade, however the same research went on to find that nearly 75% of those transformations fail to improve business performance, either short-term or long-term. So why is transformation so difficult to achieve?

Fear and insecurities. Two things most likely to keep us, as humans, in a pattern of behaviour that we know is not in our best personal or professional interest and then add to that the anxiety that nearly all of us experience on the verge of change and you have a cocktail for failure. Despite this being a common reason for transformative failure, most organisations pay far more attention to strategy and execution than they do to the people within the company who are relied upon to embrace change.

What most organisations typically overlook is the internal shift, how the workforce are affected, how they feel and what they think, without taking these factors into account resistance is likely to arise.

The result is that transforming a business also depends on transforming individuals — beginning with the most senior leaders and influencers, however, due to the ways in which people climb the corporate ladder, few senior leaders spend much time observing and understanding their own motivations, challenging their assumptions, or pushing beyond their comfort zones. Once the higher levels within a company embrace the importance of observing and understanding their own motivations, then can then help to guide the motivations of their team. Even employees highly resistant to change tend to follow their leaders, simply because most people prefer to fit in, rather than stick out.

Ultimately, personal transformation requires the courage to challenge one’s current comfort zone, and to tolerate that discomfort without overreacting. Great strategy remains foundational to transformation, but successful execution also requires surfacing and continuously addressing the invisible reasons that people and cultures so often resist changing, even when the way they’re working isn’t working.

“Growing self awareness is key to both individual and team performance and in times of change it is more important than ever to factor in the human dimension of change processes. Executive and Team coaching can play a valuable part in ensuring individuals are aligned to the values of the organisation as well as further strengthen the overall team performance. It’s not rocket science but I’m amazed how many times this crucial element is overlooked and people are expected to come on board through osmosis”. Suzanna, Xenonex MD, has seen first hand the impact of constructive teamwork when it comes to transformative change and if that sounds like something you would like to be a part of, get in touch with with us and let's discuss how we can help.

Please contact Katy.hebblewhite@xenonex.co.uk (PA to Suzanna Prout, MD)