Issues with senior management not understanding/accepting the need for Change Management

by Stephen Warrilow
(Clevedon)

"How to obtain stakeholder engagement when they 'just don't get it'?"

My suggestions are:

(1) To focus their minds on failure - the high likelihood of it - and I would seek to find ways of "grinding out" the personal impacts that failure will have on them - what it will cost them personally how and where they will have personal exposures if/when the initiative fails.

In my experience, nothing focuses corporate senior management like the fear of a personal exposure! The bigger the exposure the more engagement/action you are likely to see!

Some years ago, in another context, I wrote a sales course on doing business with senior executives - you may find this short extract on dealing with corporate politics in the sales/communication process helpful as it explains this:

"The Political Dimension"

(2) To show them how what they perceive to be "soft"/fuzzy people issues are directly and inextricably interlinked with hard financials - their hard financials - thus engagement with the CM process is essential to their interests.

You'll find useful material on this here (and on the links and resources on each page):

Change Management Implementation

I particularly recommend that you look at Peter Duschinsky's work which is featured here (and on his site) he is pioneered some services and tools that directly address this and expose senior execs to the likely/inevitable fallout of a failed initiative and he gives an assessment of the likelihood of this happening. (Peter is UK based.)

The Change Equation

(3) To some extent, to bypass them, and focus on the other people who really matter and are key to a successful initiative - the informal organisation - those in the frontline at the point of service-delivery or product - creation AND their managers (i.e. the supervisors and first level line managers.

UK practitioner Neil Farmer of Informal Networks has a superb track record (5 major corporate change programmes back-to-back) of delivery using the informal side of the organisation. Take a look at the sections on this on the link below and check out some of the many resource links on working with the informal organisation:

Resistance To Change




"How do you calculate the return on investment (ROI) of change management? How do you know you?ve succeeded?"

The short answer is by having a clear benefit management strategy in place. The page covering this on this site is here:

Benefits Of Change Management




"Helping my clients understand the necessity of dealing with the personal transformation part of change. Many times my clients understand and want to focus on the organizational change (i.e. a new software program, a new procedure, a new piece of equipment, etc.) but fail to consider the personal transformation (dealing with the loss, emotional states to be worked through, power lost or gained, etc.) issues."

"What would really help me would be an approach to getting leaders and managers to understand change management and rather than seeing it as fuzzy, huggy, one-off event or tool that will solve all the people challenges they are facing, understand the complexities, ongoing approach and their role in managing their people through the changes."

"There seems to be a reluctance among the leaders of my organization to even recognize that they have a problem with managing change. Any suggestions would be welcome."



(1) To focus their minds on failure - the high likelihood of it - and I would seek to find ways of "grinding out" the personal impacts that failure will have on them - what it will cost them personally how and where they will have personal exposures if/when the initiative fails. In my experience, nothing focuses corporate senior management like the fear of a personal exposure! The bigger the exposure the more engagement/action you are likely to see! Here is some useful material on change failure:

Change Failure

Facing Up To The Horror

(2) To show them how what they perceive to be "soft"/fuzzy people issues are directly and inextricably interlinked with hard financials - their hard financials - thus engagement with the CM process is essential to their interests.

You'll find useful material on this here (and on the links and resources on each page):

Change Management Implementation

I particularly recommend that you look at Peter Duschinsky's work which is featured here (and on his site) he is pioneered some services and tools that directly address this and expose senior execs to the likely/inevitable fallout of a failed initiative and he gives an assessment of the likelihood of this happening.

The Change Equation




"Sure fire way to minimise the strength of the restraining forces and how to manage 'the politics' during change. How to keep the eye on the big picture without seeming insensitive to people's needs and feelings."

The first thing that immediately springs to mind for keeping your/their eye on the big picture is having a clear benefit management strategy in place as per attached summary.

The page covering this on this site is here:

Benefits Of Change Management

Secondly, the level of sustained energy and support of senior management (or lack of it) bearing in mind John Kotter's maxim that 70% of management need to be on board and actively in support. In this context, senior management support needs to address the conflicts and politics - see:

Conflict Resolution Tips

Thirdly, the extent to which the informal organisation has been involved AND their first line management/supervisors are involved - those of people who work in the "frontline".

In my experience - the frontline people nearly always have the leverage and the power to block things and the solutions - the key to this is approaching them the right way, asking the right questions, and keeping them continuously involved throughout all aspects and stages of the change process.

UK change practitioner Neil Farmer of Informal Networks has a superb track record of delivery (5 major corporate change programmes back-to-back) using the informal side of the organisation. Take a look at the sections on this on the link below and check out some of the many resource links on working with the informal organisation (many reference to Neil's site and publications):

Resistance To Change




To read related articles, return to: "This is what you told me"

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