Whether small or big — a new team member, a restructuring, or a major technology upgrade — resistance to corporate change often derails business improvement efforts before they even get started – often due to the fact you have not addressed the underlying corporate culture.
Even when the issues are not simple, the solutions are. Addressing resistance is a matter of approaching corporate change just a little bit differently…so when the train leaves the station, everyone is on board:
1) Know Your Purpose. Why change? In 10 words or less, if you were selling it to a customer, what would you say? The more YOU believe in the change, the more everyone else will. But you have to communicate it! Developing a concise and compelling answer to “Why change? Why now?” speeds up buy-in. (Don’t forget to ask them what excites them about the opportunity). Want more commitment? Show yours. Repeat often.
2) Expect and Allow Emotions. No matter the size and scale, any change is an emotional process. But analytical, scientific rationale has taken over in our business culture, and communication about change mostly airs on the intellectual channel – broadcasting “financial gains” and “efficiency” and “competitive advantage.” Want faster implementation? Scale up emotional buy-in – fast. If you want people to own the change, you need a process that allows them to create the change. Think “Deal or No Deal” – drama, empowerment through information, excitement. Have meetings where you blend fun activities for “letting go of the past” and “getting excited about the future.” (food is always a great addition). Make planning for it an engaging, dynamic process (not a dust-collector that means nothing a week later). When the right people set the right plan in motion, it’s magic.
3) Tell it Straight. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – famous wisdom from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. (If it’s good enough for the Supreme Court, it’s good enough for you.) Tell people straight-up what’s going on. Let them talk about what worries them (it diffuses faster). If you don’t know the answer, tell them “We don’t know the answer.” Communicate decision channels up front – who decides, who is consulted, when updates will come. The most important question to answer on a regular basis? “What happens when things don’t follow the plan?” More candor is needed in every business. Start talking.
A few simple changes can help any leader energize people during a change – regardless of size, scale, or your formal authority.
If you get stuck, think “What makes me excited about a change?” Take it from there.
Or assess yourself using this free tool for understanding your change readiness.