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Start a Change Effort by Acknowledging Past Efforts That Failed

I already gave feedback in the past … many times … but nothing was done with my input. They don’t listen.


When it comes to organizational change, most companies have some track record of failure. That’s why leaders who are beginning new change efforts should acknowledge those that fell short in the past. Employees have seen their fair share of these failures, which means they’re likely to view your approach with skepticism, no matter how promising you think it is. To win them over, show that you understand the frustration they feel.

  • Talk about the time, effort, and emotional commitment they put toward past change efforts, and apologize for those efforts’ underwhelming results. (Yes, apologize — even if you weren’t at fault.)
  • Explaining why previous initiatives failed, in detail, will strengthen your credibility.
  • You should also explain why the new approach has a good chance of succeeding, making the case with evidence and no-nonsense forthrightness.

Being honest and open in your delivery will help to dispel employees’ cynicism, which will help you avoid the fate of your predecessors.

Failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of it

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