People hate change. Right? Whether you are leading a large technology change or business transformation – or any change at your company – remember you will always have barriers to overcome. And barriers will be there on even the most positive change.
There’s a lot to do, but here are three priorities you want to address:
1) Overcome Inertia: Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.
In other words, it’s just easier not to change. But when you’re leading a change, your job is to make it easy to take the first step and get the ball rolling. You are the outside force!
How can you get others to take the first baby steps toward making a change?
- Start by asking people to join your change, don’t tell them.
- Explain the change and what the initial changes will look like. Be specific so they can “see” it.
- Explain the benefits for them. The classic WIIFM (or ‘What’s in it for me?’).
- Be very clear about what somebody does and doesn’t have to do as the change progresses.
- Help others feel a part of the decision to change. For example, say, “I wonder if…”. It’s a great way to help them envision the change.
2) What Behavior Changes are Needed? Will motivation and/or skills help people change? Behavior change is always tricky. What is needed to help change behavior?
Do they need help understanding WHY they should make changes (Motivation) or HOW to make the change (Skills)? Which one is it? Spoiler alert, of course, it could always be both.
- If your stakeholders need skills and need to understand how to make the change – then communications and training might be the ticket.
- But without motivation to change, you can train and educate all day long and get nowhere. Find what will create the motivation to change.
3) Meet People Where They Are: Really take time to determine where people are in their understanding and acceptance of the change.
Not where you wish they were. Not where they need to be based on your timeline. Not where you think they should be based on all your prior efforts. Assess and understand where they actually are.
The sooner you acknowledge this reality, the sooner you can develop the right change plan to help them. Will some still need the basic 101’s of your change – even though you feel like it’s been explained ten times? Too bad, saddle up and get ready for time #11. Until you acknowledge where your groups are and address it, you’re just fooling yourself.
Remember these three items and factor them into your change approach before you get too far down the path with your change!
And never forget that these skills you use at work can be used on children and spouses too. But you didn’t hear that from me.
Kirsten Jordan is a Partner at PeopleResults.