Leading through change

Leading Through Change: How to Avoid Failure in Change Management

5 min read
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Alice Florence Orr

Leading through change is harder than you might think – organisational transformation has a staggering 70% failure rate. Enacting long-term change requires a structured approach to deliver your desired outcome. And as a leader, it’s your responsibility to bring every team member on that journey.

With so many employees working remotely, it’s even harder to create lasting change. Why? Asking for behavioural change outside of the office environment can feel like running on a hamster wheel. That’s why we need to implement a system that is smarter than us.

What is more important: strategy or behaviour change?

In our webinar on change management, we learned from transformation coach Rishita Jones how to use the mind’s power to create long-term change. Transformation is not just about strategies and plans; it’s fundamentally about people. To drive transformation efforts, effective leadership must understand the psychological principles that shape human behaviour.

We’ve adapted Rishita’s methodology into a comprehensive guide for leaders and managers to implement successful change management strategies. We’ve included short-term wins, leadership skills, and ways to optimise habit formation in your team.

Step-by-Step Guide to Effective Change Management

Step 1: Build Awareness 💭

Objective: Make individuals aware of upcoming changes within the organisation. This is a challenge for communication across every level of your company. Without engaging line managers as well as senior leaders, it’s unlikely you’ll see permanent change.


  • Craft a compelling narrative about your transformation project that resonates emotionally with employees.
  • Communicate the “why” behind the change, emphasising purpose and meaning. Initiatives fail because they don’t have a strong enough North Star Metric.
  • Consider diverse communication channels to reach a wider audience. This may include presentations, memos, or even a manifesto. Avoid sending generic, company-wide emails, as they feel impersonal and can cause alarm.
  • Tailor messages to different groups, recognising the unique “what’s in it for me” appeal for each level of your staff.

Step 2: Ignite Desire 🚀

Objective: Cultivate a supportive mindset among employees to willingly embrace change. Part of being an effective leader is motivating your team with a sense of urgency behind your initiative. Make sure your project management staff are also effectively managing the transition period.


  • Conduct future scenario sessions or design thinking workshops to visualise change. A simple A/B test can drive data in this area.
  • Encourage employees to dream and imagine the positive impact of the change.
  • Leverage storytelling techniques to engage individuals emotionally. Ask yourself why your staff are at your company. Try tapping into what differentiates your company to employees and build a narrative around that mission.
  • Incorporate language and imagery that creates a desire for the proposed change. 🚀

Step 3: Impart Knowledge 🧠

Objective: Familiarise employees with the new processes and expectations. Include training opportunities as part of this step.


  • Use mind-mapping techniques to understand current workflows and habits.
  • You should identify what you need to learn and what old habits you should abandon.
  • Develop training programs and resources to increase competence. Performance reviews are integral in this approach.
  • Provide platforms for hands-on learning and experimentation.

Step 4: Enhance Ability 💪🏽

Objective: Ensure employees feel confident and capable of executing the change. Empowering your people to execute their roles will give them a real sense of value. We’ve seen a connection between increased employee engagement and improved productivity.


  • Address learning anxiety by providing resources and training opportunities.
  • Acknowledge the two types of anxiety: learning anxiety and survival anxiety. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable acquiring new skills.
  • Promote a growth mindset, emphasising that mistakes are part of the learning process.

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Step 5: Provide Reinforcement 🎁

Objective: Sustain momentum and prevent individuals from reverting to old habits. By using a smart software, you can improve the employee experience without making more work for managers.


  • Recognise and reward efforts made during the change process. Mo uses Moments to bring attention to positive behaviours. Your company culture codifies these behaviours through recognition.
  • Design the change to be easy to sustain, aligning with the principle of least effort. As noted by James Clear in Atomic Habits, 1% improvement every day will make you 37 times better in a year.
  • Implement a feedback loop to consistently assess and adjust the change strategy.
  • Celebrate milestones and achievements to maintain motivation. Our software goes beyond anniversaries and birthdays to make work rewarding for employees.

Step 6: Embrace Self-Determination Theory (STT) 🤸🏻‍♂️

Objective: Incorporate principles of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Self-determination theory will help your people feel empowered to achieve results.


  • Recognise the innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
  • Provide resources and training to enhance employees’ confidence and capabilities.
  • Encourage autonomy by involving employees in the change process and decision-making.
  • Foster a sense of relatedness through open communication, learning communities, and peer support. Mo boosts team connection by changing communication habits through a smart engagement system.

Step 7: Implement the Outcome Model 📊

Objective: Combine the rules of the mind, STT principles, and habit formation. Human behaviour likes ritual; to drive effective change, you must work on daily habits in your organisation.


  • Utilise the ADKAR model, emphasising awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement.
  • Integrate the five rules of the mind into each step of the change process. 👉 Watch the webinar for an explainer.
  • Consider Daniel Pink’s motivation theory (mastery, purpose, autonomy) for a holistic approach. Pink believes that connecting to a higher purpose will give individuals the drive they need.
  • Regularly assess the effectiveness of each step and make adjustments as needed. We have accessible engagement data built into our platform that speeds up the feedback loop.

Step 8: Humanise Change ✨

Objective: Treat employees as humans, not commodities, by addressing their cognitive, emotional, and physical aspects. Acknowledge the uniqueness of individuals and tailor change initiatives accordingly.


  • Balance the focus on the physical journey with emotional and cognitive considerations.
  • Personalise change initiatives to align with individual preferences and capabilities. Strive for a minimum lovable product (MLP) approach, introducing change gradually.
  • Promote a culture of inclusivity, recognising the importance of social connections and relationships.
  • Continually refine the change strategy based on human-centric feedback and experiences. Implement persona mapping and empathy mapping to understand diverse perspectives.

Organisations can create an effective change management process that connects with individuals by following these steps.

When it comes to improving employee habits, the best time to start is now 👉 Book a free demo

Leading through change: Key Takeaways

  • Leading organisational transformation has a high failure rate of 70%. Implementing lasting change mandates a structured approach and requires the commitment of every team member.
  • Effective change management prioritises understanding the psychological principles influencing human behaviour over mere strategic planning.
  • Change initiatives succeed when leaders recognise that change is primarily about people and their reactions to transformation efforts.

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