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How to Help Your Firm's Big Change Management Projects

Most of world's big companies are embarking on numerous large-scale change management projects every year; this requires all corporate functions to pitch in and contribute, including Internal Audit

The number of big changes that an average employee experiences at work has increased more than 70% since 2011. It is no wonder that employees’ “change fatigue” was what senior risk, audit, and finance execs said was the most worrying emerging risk in a recent CEB survey. It was also a “hot spot” in CEB’s 2017 audit plan hot spots report — which identifies what most concerns boards, audit committees, and senior executives.

What they’re all worried about is employees becoming more disengaged with their work and the company, and so less productive. Audit teams can help to monitor and counter this threat by assessing how the effects of change fatigue are integrated into project plans and assessing how the organizations responds to signs of disengagement.

Six Lessons

On a more basic level, audit teams can make a major contribution by just helping change initiatives to succeed. The reality is that half of these projects don’t meet the goals defined at the outset, setting up a vicious cycle of even more change to compensate for the failure. Analysis of 413 change initiatives at more than 300 firms provide six lessons that audit teams should consider when evaluating their firm’s change management plans.

In each of the six, “no significant impact” means that no statistically significant impact on the success of a change project (positive or negative) was observed.

  1. Support and retain critical employees at all levels, not just senior levels:

  2. Be transparent about the unpredictable nature of change, don’t pretend the current situation is permanent:

  3. Each change requires tailored outreach, don’t rely on past experience:

  4. Communicate the goals, not the benefits, of changes:

  5. Increase employees’ readiness, not willingness, to respond to change:

  6. Focus on the definition of change success, not the implementation plan:


More On…

  • Change Management

    Learn more about the importance of change management to all large companies and how to overcome some of the most common barriers to making a success of large scale change.

  • Risk Assessment & Audit Planning

    The size and complexity of many organizations, and the constantly changing risk environment, means there is now often insufficient information to make good decisions. Learn how to change that with these resources.

  • Fi|r|st Quarterly Journal for Finance, Risk, and Strategy

    Learn more about which emerging risks most concern ERM teams by downloading the most recent edition of CEB's quarterly journal for finance, risk, and strategy executives.

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