Towers Watson: Just 25 Percent of Employers Sustain Change Management Gains

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people in bubbleThe 2013 Towers Watson Change and Communication ROI Survey reveals that only 25 percent of organizations keep the gains forged by change management initiatives, despite the initial success reported by most employers. The inability to sustain these gains is blamed primarily on companies’ inability to train managers as successful change leaders. Over half of respondents (55 percent) reported that their change management initiatives met initial objectives but only one-quarter are able to realize long-term gains.

“Most companies are having a difficult time keeping the momentum of their change management initiatives going,” said Brad Messinger, a senior change management consultant at Towers Watson. “The organizations that are able to sustain change over time are those that focus on the fundamentals that we know drive successful change: communication, training, leadership engagement and measurement. And despite nearly uniform acceptance that these are the key drivers of change, the companies that aren’t good at them aren’t getting any better.”

Most companies understand the importance of the role of managers in change and 87 percent train them to manage change, but only 22 percent reported that their training proved effective. In fact, just 68 percent of senior managers reported understanding the reasons behind major organizational decisions. And merely half of middle managers and 40 percent of first-line supervisors think that their employers are good at explaining the reasoning behind major decisions.

“To prepare managers for their role as successful change leaders, companies must ensure that they focus on informing, engaging and enabling their employees. Managers need to understand why people resist change and acknowledge that they themselves are likely to resist change. They also need to be visible, engage in dialogue with their team early and often, and ensure that employees feel like they have a stake in the success of the organization,” said Messinger.


By Joshua Bjerke