In a new report, McKinsey have just gone to great lengths to prove what we all know to be common sense but usually don't practice.  That is: change begins with people and business transformation only works if we engage them.

McKinsey go on to say: "... most notably for roles at lower levels of the organization, respondents at companies with the most successful transformations report greater overall degrees of involvement".  They then hit us with the dreadful facts.

  • When frontline staff are engaged, at least 26% of transformations are successful.  When they are not, the success rate falls to 3%.
  • Typically in successful transformations, 73% of frontline staff are engaged.  In unsuccessful transformations, less than 45% are.
  • Whilst 34% of CEOs viewed a particular transformation as successful, only 6% of frontline employees agreed.

More importantly for me, the report highlights the different views about effective actions.

  • 42% of frontline staff wanted clear communication on transformation objectives.  This compared to 32% from all staff.
  • 30% of frontline staff wanted regular access to information on transformation progress, compared to 16% overall.
  • 19% of frontline staff needed to see visible changes in their day to day work as a result of the transformation.  This compared to 15% overall.

None of this should come as much surprise.  It's just common sense.  As a rule, people don't like change so the more we ignore them, the more they will resist it.  But the most shocking conclusion from this McKinsey work is that some managers clearly believe they can ignore their staff and in doing so, expect to see similar results.  May be in another blog we might explore the reasons behind this, but for the moment, lets just ponder the sober truth.  Most companies are pretty poor at managing change.