8 ways to mismanage change

8BallWe’ve been doing a lot of programs on change management lately.  Here’s a piece I wrote for the Southeast Wisconsin ASTD newsletter.

Leaders don’t set out to do a bad job helping employees handle change.  But you’d be surprised at how often they end up doing just that.  Here’s how to insure that you fail miserably: 


  1. Explain it once and be done with it.  Whether it’s a merger, a reorganization, or a change in work assignments, tell people – then drop the subject.  They heard you. Why go over it again and again?
  2. Use vague terminology.  Don’t be specific about what will change.  Use clichés like “quality driven” and “flatter organizational structure.”  Make sure only top managers know the details.
  3. Don’t talk about the purpose behind change.  Employees wouldn’t understand, anyway.  Besides, they want to keep their jobs, so they’ll just do as they’re told.
  4. Dismiss people’s feelings.  They’re overreacting.  Nobody promised them a rose garden.   Change is coming, and there’s nothing they can do about it. If you ignore all that messy emotion, it will go away.
  5. Disregard the past.  No matter how things worked before, it’s over now.  The new ways will be better; why else would top management have come up with them?  Insist that people focus only on the future.  They’ll soon forget their sense of loss.
  6. Don’t answer questionsPeople will come up with their own ideas about what’s going to happen.  Let them – it will keep them busy during the transition.  And crazy rumors keep people on their toes.
  7. Don’t allow doubt or confusion.  Make everybody get with the program.  Isolate those who seem depressed, before they bring everybody else down. 
  8. Pile on the changesBefore people get too settled in the new ways, change something else.  Why not?  Everybody’s used to constant shocks by now. A few more won’t matter.

 Have you or your organization ever handled change this way?  What were the results?

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