How to Overcome Barriers to Change Management & Gain Support

You’re a change practitioner armed with a brilliant strategy, a well-crafted communication plan, and a dash of optimism. Yet, when you knock on the executive suite’s door, you’re met with confused expressions and skeptical glances.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Securing change management support from leadership is a common challenge—one that we hear about from change practitioners practically every day.

It can seem very clear to you that people need to be enabled with OCM to adopt change, and that projects often fail without it. But gaining the change management buy-in of leadership can feel like navigating a labyrinth.

How to gain leadership support for change management

In this article, we’ll provide tips on getting leadership to support change management and give it a place at the project table. As you know, change isn’t just about processes; it’s about people. And getting leaders on your side? Well, that’s a change worth championing!

Watch a summary below:

Story Highlights

  • Leadership change management support can be missing due to a lack of understanding, fear of disruption, competing priorities, focus on short-term results, or past OCM failures.
  • It’s important to overcome barriers to change management because leaders have decision-making power, allocate resources, and provide organizational alignment for OCM.
  • Gaining change management buy-in involves speaking leadership’s language and presenting a strong business case.
  • Developing a strong, collaborative relationship with leadership is key to securing their buy-in for change management.

What Causes Barriers to Change Management?

Before you can gain change management support from leadership, you need to understand where the lack of buy-in is coming from. Several factors can cause leadership to dismiss your change management initiatives:

  • Lack of Understanding: Leaders might not fully grasp the benefits of change management or the potential consequences of inaction.
  • Fear of Disruption: Change can be disruptive, impacting productivity and potentially causing short-term hiccups. Leaders might hesitate to give OCM a meaningful role in the organization due to concerns about negative impacts on existing workflows.
  • Competing Priorities: Leaders juggle numerous priorities. Securing funding and resources for change management can be challenging when weighed against pressing day-to-day operational needs.
  • Focus on Short-Term Results: Leadership teams might prioritize short-term profits over long-term investment in setting up an OCM team and securing change management tools. Even though the benefits of OCM might be more long-lasting.
  • Past OCM Failures: Previous negative experiences with change management might breed skepticism among leaders towards new initiatives.

All-in-One Organizational Change Management Templates Software

OCM Toolkit for Change Managers and Teams. Change Impacts

The Importance of Change Management Getting Buy-in

Why is getting leadership to support change management in the organization so important? Here are some of the key reasons you need to gain buy-in from organizational leaders.

Resource Allocation

Leadership controls funding and resources. Their support ensures your change management activities have the financial backing and personnel needed for successful implementation.

Without the right resources, such as software and trained change managers, you may only be able to provide minimal OCM support. This means that the organization won’t be seeing the full benefit that well-implemented change management could provide to projects.

Decision-Making Power

Leaders ultimately decide whether a change management initiative gets the green light. Their change management support ensures your work to support organizational initiatives moves forward.

One of the barriers to change management is the lack of a seat at the table with the project team. The OCM team isn’t invited to meetings and often has a hard time getting the information needed to assess change impacts correctly. With leadership’s change management buy-in, often comes inclusion in projects from the beginning and the ability to access project resources.

Communication and Alignment

Leadership sets the tone for the organization. Their enthusiasm and support motivate employees and foster a culture of embracing change. Leadership buy-in helps you also get employee buy-in for change management. This is essential to getting the cooperation you need when engaging with stakeholders, building a Change Agents Network, and achieving adoption goals.

Please reach out if you have any questions or feedback about encouraging leadership to support change management. We’d love to hear from you!

5 Steps to Getting Leadership to Support Change Management

If you’ve been struggling with leadership-related barriers to change management, these five tips can help. They lay out important ways to gain the leadership and employee buy-in change management teams need.

1. Speak Their Language

Leaders are concerned about the bottom line. Frame your change management proposal in terms of tangible benefits. Quantify the positive impacts of the change initiative, such as increased revenue, improved efficiency, enhanced customer satisfaction, or reduced costs.

Utilize data and market research to support your claims. When overcoming barriers to change management, statistics are like pictures, speaking a thousand words. They can make your case in a way that leadership gets and understands immediately.

Here is an example of a powerful statistic from our PowerPoint presentation, Making the Case for Change Management.

Statistics to gain support for change management

2. Focus on the “Why” and Clearly Define Success

Leaders need to understand the rationale behind the proposed change. Clearly articulate the problem that change management support aims to solve, the potential consequences of inaction, and the opportunities the change presents. Don’t be afraid to bring in facts from the organization’s non-OCM history, such as, “We’ve had roughly 60% of our people-related projects fail due to a lack of adoption.” Then, explain how change management would change that.

Furthermore, define clear success metrics. Outline how you will measure the impact of the change on the organization and readiness progress. Demonstrate OCM’s contribution to achieving organizational goals.

3. Address Potential Challenges and Risks

No change initiative is without risks, this includes gaining change management buy-in for projects. Anticipate potential challenges leaders might be concerned about, such as:

  • Disruption to workflow
  • Employee resistance
  • Budget overruns

Develop mitigation strategies for these challenges and demonstrate you have a plan to navigate obstacles effectively.

OCM Apps for Organizational Change Management - Change Risks

OCM Software for Organizational Change Management

4. Build a Strong Business Case

Develop a compelling business case for including OCM in the organization’s project workflow. This can be done in a PowerPoint presentation or Word document, for example. Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are getting shorter in the digital age, so keep text to a minimum and add graphics and key points that focus on helping you gain change management support.

This document should outline the following:

  • The need for change management to support projects that impact people
  • Proposed process flows
  • Implementation plan
  • Timeline
  • Resource requirements
  • Projected return on investment (ROI)

Tailor your business case to address leadership’s specific priorities and concerns. This will give you a better chance of overcoming barriers to change management and gaining buy-in.

5. Tailor Your Approach and Communication Strategy

Leaders are busy. Respect their time by keeping presentations concise and focused on key information. Utilize visuals like charts, graphs, and infographics to enhance clarity and impact.

Additionally, tailor your communication style to the leadership team’s preferences. Some leaders might prefer a data-driven, analytical approach, while others might respond better to a visionary presentation highlighting the future-state benefits of giving OCM a role in organizational initiatives.

If you have any questions or feedback about overcoming barriers to change management and gaining leadership buy-in, please reach out and let us know.

Building a Collaborative Relationship to Support Change Management

Developing a strong, collaborative relationship with leadership is key to securing their buy-in for change management initiatives. Here are some additional tips to foster this collaboration.

Schedule Regular Updates

Keep leadership informed on the progress of OCM support for change initiatives through regular meetings, reports, and presentations. This transparency demonstrates your accountability and commitment to success.

Involve Leaders in the Planning Process

Don’t present leaders with a finished plan. Engage them in brainstorming sessions and solicit their input on key decisions. This fosters a sense of ownership and increases the likelihood of their change management buy-in.

Making a Case for Change Management

Celebrate Milestones

Acknowledge and celebrate successes with leadership. This reinforces the value of change management and motivates them to continue their support.

Be Proactive in Addressing Concerns

Anticipate potential concerns from leaders and be prepared to address them proactively. Gather feedback throughout the process and adjust your approach as needed to maintain their confidence.

Conclusion: Leading Change Together

Securing leadership’s change management support is a crucial step toward successful implementation. By speaking their language, focusing on the “why,” building a strong business case, tailoring your communication, and fostering collaboration, you can win over leaders and ignite the fire for OCM transformation within your organization.

Remember, change management is a shared journey. When leadership and change managers work together as a team, the obstacles become stepping stones on the path to a brighter, more successful future for the organization.

OCMS Portal - Software for OD and Change

Change Management Software to Support Your Success

One way to gain change management support is to use a tool that provides the reporting leadership likes to see.

OCMS Portal is an all-in-one change management platform. It provides detailed and high-level analytics of your change management activities. It also provides a structured step-by-step process that’s easy for new change practitioners to follow.

See it in Action… Sign up for a free trial now.

All-in-One OCM Apps for Organizational Change Management

Making a Case for Change Management

FAQ: Overcoming Barriers to Change Management

Why do leaders fail to support change management??

Several factors can cause leadership to ignore or dismiss the idea of change management. These include a lack of understanding, fear of disruption, competing priorities, focus on short-term results, and past OCM failures.

Why is leadership support for change management important?

If you don’t gain the leadership and employee buy-in change management needs, then it will be difficult to get the resources you need. Having no personnel or tools makes it hard to engage with impacted users in a meaningful way. A lack of leadership support can also mean that change management isn’t included in project discussions, and is included only as an afterthought, after adoption is a problem.

What’s one of the important ways to overcome barriers to change management?

One of the important ways of change management getting buy-in is to explain to leadership why change management is important and back it up with details on what success looks like.

Note: Content on OCM Solution's website is protected by copyright. Should you have any questions or comments regarding this OCM Solutions page, please reach out to Ogbe Airiodion (Change Management Lead) or the OCM Solutions Team today. OCM Solution was previously known as Airiodion Global Services (AGS).

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