This is a damning indictment of our ability to institute change given how much we know on the subject.
I have just delivered a talk on “Making Change Stick” to a client team with European reach intent on a significant change trajectory. As is customary with several organizations focused on the strategic imperative for change they were concentrated on the systems and processes and not the human behavioral side of change.
We know from Global Surveys conducted on the subject of change that there exist two significant contributing factors to failure when an organization attempts to institute change. These include the prevailing mind-set and attitudes 58% in the system and the current Corporate Culture 50% (IBM Global Study 2011)
What to consider?
In a detailed analysis of Change Management conducted by IBM Global Business in 2008 and revised in 2011 there are four common factors that when combined can increase the likelihood of success. These include focusing on Real Insights, Solid Methods, Better Skills and the Right Investment in terms of the business process and the people dimension of a change process
In practice you have to think of a few real concerns…
Discuss the subject of resistance and determine where your people might be sitting on the change curve. All change involves loss of some sort and for many it can create a feeling of sadness, grief, incompetence and abandonment. Managers because of their inherent technical bias are taught to mange the process but not the management of people’s anxiety and confusion or conversely their excitement and engagement.
Change involves un-learning
Many people are inherently cynical about change, many doubt its effectiveness and too often there are conflicting priorities with an organization to see that the change could possibly be a success. We have to learn how to learn, how to chose and how to relate to people, which is often simply a new learning.
Change is the new normal
The values of the 21st worker include empowerment, accountability and ownership. If companies insist on managing change as if the conditions of control, predictability and consistency are alive they will perpetuate dependency and resistance. The shift in the core values of employees has created a workforce that will embrace change as long as they are part of the solution. In other words the mental models of leaders has to change from unilateral control to mutual learning.
Play to Win
Playing to win is about seeing change as an opportunity and a challenge. It is about taking risks and moving out of a comfort zone. It means letting go and building new scripts or patterns for success. It is about embracing new behaviors and admonishing old and redundant behaviors consciously. For some it is about living 100% by the values of T.A.S.T.E. Truth, Accountability, Support, Trust and Energy.
It takes courage to recognize that the system, mind-set, culture, and or structures are failing and need to be addressed. Staying put is an option but it can mean atrophy as well.
Identify the pay-offs
Work has significant meaning for people. When change is muted people feel threatened or challenged and will respond in a manner in keeping with how vulnerable they feel. Managing change means managing peoples fear however irrational. The fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of a being wrong, and the fear of emotional discomfort keep us where we are and encourage inaction. The trick is to identify these fears and acknowledge their existence. If however the new order is compelling, makes sense and can be understood these fears can be surmounted.
Notice and change the language you use.
|From Fearful||To Fearless|
|I can’t||I will find a way|
|It’s a problem||It’s an opportunity|
|It will never work out||I can handle whatever happens|
|I am not good enough||I continue to learn and grow through each experience|
Identify your current mindset
In the group I worked with they began to appreciate that the organization’s espoused view of the world was inconsistent with the current values in action. With consciousness they were then able to re-script the beliefs, values and feelings necessary to make the change required a reality. This is no easy feat and requires persistence, reflection and practice for recurrence.
On an individual level the members of this group were able to see how they could contribute to the change success by being aware of the current limitations in their set up, by being desirous of change, understanding the skills gap and knowledge required, their own ability and that of those whom they were trying to influence and by being committed to reinforcing their efforts.
Inevitably this means you have to…
Avoid the blame game. It’s very easy to stop yourself from moving forward when you see an external event or person as being the reason why you can’t do something. Gently remind yourself that you can choose how you respond to and deal with any given situation.
Build your confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone. To do this revisit past achievements when you took risks and succeeded!
Catch your negative thinking habits and focus on more positive thoughts! It’s amazing how much time we waste on worrying about what others might think and the worst possible outcomes that may never happen.
Take action! Even small steps can lead to unstoppable momentum. And then soon enough you’ll have made that big leap! Start by researching, asking questions, meeting people who have made the changes you want to make and get inspired by ordinary people who are now living extraordinary lives.
Remember the Change Equation
Despite its name and appearance this is not serious mathematics it is an intuitive tool that reminds change advocates about what they need to consider when implementing change.
Change is a considered response to the dissatisfaction (D) with the current state a vision for a future state that when coupled with a meaningful first step can surmount the natural resistance that accompanies change. It is worthwhile remembering this tool
Resisting change is like holding your breath, if you succeed you die!