The Silent Killer of Change Projects: Fear of Speaking Up

By Mark Vincent


RAG Status Report

It’s another bustling Thursday afternoon, and the ever-deceptive winter sun is setting early, leaving you pondering over a mystifying status report. Just days ago, everything was on track, sailing smoothly. Then, out of nowhere, an email arrives—a project is delayed, and now you’re left to deal with the fallout.

The Unexpected Email

Picture Samantha, a dedicated change leader, frozen in front of her computer screen. She’s just received an email stating:

“Regrettably, unforeseen setbacks have led to delays in the project. With vacations and prior project commitments, the earliest we can anticipate completing this is the end of February.”

Now, Samantha is not just facing a logistical dilemma; she’s wrestling with an emotional one too. Her manager, Richard, is notorious for his quick temper. “Who can I fire?” Samantha can almost hear him shout.

From Green to Red: The Hidden Culprit

You may wonder, how can a project go from progressing perfectly to hitting a wall so suddenly? In our experience, the answer often lies in a culture of silence, where team members are afraid to speak up about potential setbacks. The fear of repercussions keeps people quiet, leading to unwelcome surprises that throw projects off course.

The Damaging Impact of Fear

This fear of speaking up is not just detrimental to projects; it’s corrosive to entire organizations. It can lead to company collapses, tarnish reputations, and even result in tragic loss of life. This culture of fear and silence is like pouring sugar into your fuel tank—it’s only a matter of time before the entire system breaks down.

Be the Change Leader Who Listens

If you’re spearheading change or a significant transformation, heed this warning: Pay attention to your team’s comfort level when it comes to speaking candidly about challenges. Make it your mission to foster an environment where people feel safe to voice concerns. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself unprepared for the obstacles that will inevitably come your way.

Unlock Hidden Insights with Change Journey Navigator

It’s time to be proactive. Don’t wait for hidden emotions and unspoken fears to derail your projects. The Change Journey Navigator can help you identify and measure over 60 factors that influence the success or failure of your change initiatives, including the often-overlooked fear of speaking up.

Don’t gamble with your transformational efforts. Discover the hidden emotions and attitudes driving behaviours before they become your stumbling blocks.

Learn More About Engaging Your People Effectively

Adopt this mindset, and you’ll be well on your way to leading change that not only meets timelines and objectives but also builds a culture of trust and openness. After all, real change begins with honest conversation.

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