Four Proven Strategies for Change Management Success

It’s been just over a month since New Year’s Eve and all the resolution-making that comes with it, and I’m sitting here, wondering how many of those goals have already fallen by the wayside. This might not surprise you, but around 60% of New Year’s resolutions fail before June, and of the remainder, fewer than 10% of them ever succeed.

Like New Year’s resolutions, organizational change initiatives tend to start with a bang and then fizzle out within the first few months. So what can we do to give these initiatives a greater chance of success and actually activate behavior change? Here are four strategies from leading behavioral scientists.

1. Initiate change at natural transition points

Organizational change, like a New Year’s resolution, relies on people to change the way they behave: either they need to change existing habits, or they must adopt new ones. But getting others to change their ways can be nearly impossible, so how can CLOs convince people in their organizations to make a commitment to change their individual behavior?

The fresh start effect shows us that people are up to 145% more open to setting goals and embracing change at natural transition points such as the start of a new week, month, or year. Initiating change programs at natural transition points can improve your team’s buy-in and motivation to change, significantly improving your chances of success.

What are some of the natural transition points in your organization that you can use to kick off your change program?

2. Believe you can

The single best predictor of resolution success is readiness to change. Being ready for change means that your people not only want to change, but that they believe they can change. This sense of having the power to make a change is known as self-efficacy.

People with high self-efficacy are more likely to make resolutions, and are also more likely to be successful. In fact, explicitly making a resolution has been found to improve our chances of success by 10 times more than those who don’t!

So, how can we empower people to build their self-efficacy and make a commitment to change?

We need to provide them with the right tools for self-development. Digital coaching fills this role quite seamlessly. It helps build self-efficacy through guiding reflection, and encouraging people to make commitments and follow through on them.

What can you do to empower your people to take responsibility for change?

3. Avoid negative influences, and reward good behavior

In a study of tobacco quitters, most participants used ‘awareness-raising’ strategies. They typically stuck up gruesome images of damaged lungs and other reminders of the consequences of relapse. Unfortunately, this popular strategy proved to be a bust. The participants went right on smoking.

The study revealed that the key difference between resolution-makers who are successful at maintaining new habits and those who aren’t is this: unsuccessful resolution-makers use ‘awareness-raising’ strategies, whereas successful resolution-makers use stimulus control (avoidance) and reinforcement (rewards) to maintain newly formed habits.

The same principle applies in an organizational setting. Using automated coaching helps people identify the controllables in their context, as well as ways to control them, minimizing their chances of relapse. The Cognician platform makes use of rewards such as badges and additional fun content to keep users motivated to push through to the end.

In what ways can you incorporate stimulus control into your change management program? And what can you do to reward people to keep them motivated?

4. Change the way you think about change

A common downfall of resolution-makers is black-and-white thinking: seeing a moment of weakness as ‘proof’ that they lack the willpower to persevere.

Self-doubt is natural, and you can bet that the people in your organization will visit this frame of mind at some point. The key to perseverance in even the lowest of moments is thinking constructively about setbacks.

In the study of tobacco quitters, researchers found that the participants who managed to persevere beyond the two-year mark actively identified situational factors that led to their moments of weakness, and then made an effort to avoid those situations again in the future.

Digital coaching achieves the same effect through encouraging people to unpack their thinking, allowing them to identify and tackle black-and-white thinking that may be getting in the way of successful change. Through this process, people learn how to apply constructive thinking, helping them to persevere through setbacks.

What can you do to get your organization to think constructively about potential setbacks?

Cognician is an award-winning digital coaching platform for change management, leadership development, and performance excellence. Contact us for a demo – we’d love to partner with you to help you achieve your organizational goals and activate behavior change at scale.