Just a quarter of organisations are able to keep the momentum of their change management initiatives going over the long-term.
This is according to a new survey by professional services firm Towers Watson, which found 55% of employers say change management initiatives meet their initial objectives. However, just one in four (25%) say the gains achieved are sustainable.
The survey says that companies’ inability to prepare and train managers to be effective change leaders is partly to blame.
Change management initiatives run the gamut from small-scale changes in policy to business transformation, buy-outs and mergers and acquisitions.
Nicola Cull, senior change management consultant at Towers Watson, said: “The organisations that are able to sustain change over time are those that focus on the fundamentals that we know drive successful change: communication, training, leadership engagement and measurement. And despite nearly uniform acceptance that these are the key drivers of change, the companies that are not good at them are not getting any better.”
According to the survey, most companies recognise that managers have an important role in managing change, but while nine out of 10 respondents (87%) claim to train managers to manage change, less than a quarter (23%) report that this training is effective.
“Managers are a catalyst for successful change. Now is the ideal time for organisations to look at this lingering problem from a new angle, focusing on the manager’s role. For managers to succeed at spearheading change, companies need to change their approach, train managers more effectively and do a much better job of communicating with them,” said Cull.
According to Towers Watson research, just two-thirds (68%) of senior managers say they understand the reasons behind major organisational decisions. This drops to 53% for middle managers and 40% for first-line supervisors.