New Change Project Hitting Problems?

business change professional business change skills career change projects leadership mindset tips Sep 02, 2020
aerial view of winding mountain road
To create successful and sustainable change, you will inevitably have lots of failures first. When the first bumps in the road appear on the new change project you’re desperate to impress on, here are four mindset shifts to turn failure into massive professional success. 


With so much changing in the world and so many opportunities to transform how we do business, it stands to reason there are a lot of people starting new jobs in change management right now!

If you’re one of them and are feeling the pressure to impress but problems are starting to crop up, this week’s blog post is for you!


Four mindset shifts when your new change project starts to go wrong:


reflection of sky in a puddle


1. Instead of hiding mistakes, have the courage to own them fully

Something I often see in the people I mentor, teach and work with, is the belief that making a mistake will harm your credibility. 

The truth is that you showing up with courage and owning your mistakes will make your credibility skyrocket. 

Owning up to mistakes requires a lot of courage; after all, it’s much easier not to confess (and certainly no one expects you to). 

I am probably the only person who will tell you this.

Other people will advise you to pretend it didn't happen. 

Not many people will tell you to get really intentional.

I know it’s not easy, but it’s the best thing to do for the long term success of your project and your career. 


orange mist on bend in road with trees either side


2. Instead of rushing to fix the problem, get curious about why it really happened 

When a problem arises, most people will jump to how to fix it, but that’s not the right question to ask. 

I love solving problems, but I have to slam the brakes on and instead get deeply curious about exactly what happened.

What really caused the problem? What are the underlying causes?

It’s rare the thing you think caused it the problem is the real cause. Go deeper.

For example, early on in a project when the private meetings with key stakeholders have happened and you’re moving on to creating awareness with the user base, it’s easy to think everything is going great!

But then you start hearing whispers that a stakeholder is downplaying what you’re trying to change. 

This counter-briefing happens all the time.

In this case, the problem isn’t that there are rumblings, the problem is the rogue stakeholder.

It takes courage to go back to a senior person and talk about the problems, particularly if you're new or in a big new role.

You’re probably not at the stage where you can walk into the corner office and say straight out, “What’s the problem?”

But you must get curious about why this problem is coming up - or I guarantee it will mushroom into a far bigger set-back further down the line.


yellow flower growing from crack in tarmac


3. Take the time to discover the deep learning from what went wrong

Instead of soldiering on as soon as a problem is fixed, take the time to go deeply into why it occurred in the first place.

In the example above, what can you learn about stakeholder engagement? Can you create opportunities to keep checking-in? Did you not make your engagement enough about what’s in it for them? What changes can you make going forward so the same mistake doesn’t happen again?

Mistakes are inevitable, but the same mistakes over and over are a sign you’re not learning. 

My typical way of getting the learning out is to journal on it. I’m not a huge journaller but I find it useful to get deeply curious and pull out multiple pieces of learning.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and don’t stop writing. It’s likely that the first learnings that come out aren’t the real gold, so keep going until you find the nuggets that can really make a difference.

This deep learning will inform every change you make from now on, and make you a better change manager.


brown leaf reflecting in puddle of water


4. Get used to being (sometimes painfully) transparent

When something goes wrong in the early days of a new change project, the last thing you want to do is tell everyone about it, yet transparency is vital.

Why? Because you gain so much trust from sharing what’s not working. 

Having the courage to own your mistakes and learnings means there’s zero space for rumours because everyone already has the true story from you. 

The fact you're willing to have that conversation and articulate the real underlying problems means creates opportunity to do things differently. 

From being on the fence, people become advocates for you and your change because they’ve seen you behave in a way that’s in integrity. 

You are laying the foundations so when future problems come up, your stakeholders will back you 100 percent because they know you’ll never throw them under the bus. 

Mistakes make a change. 

Keep walking into the mistake with courage, so you can walk out the other side so much further forward than if you’d ignored it.

If you’re starting a new role and are feeling uncertain, I have capacity to take on one or two more mentoring clients. Send me a DM to find out more about how I can support you. For more free content on all things to do with business change and transformation, join the email list:

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