Two Things You Need To Do After Choosing To Change

 
 

While at a reception at a recent association conference, an attendee found me in the crowd and said, "I am so looking forward to your talk about change tomorrow!" When I inquired as to why, he said, "I want to know how to get people to take action. They always say they agree with the change, but they just won't start doing things differently."

It's a theme I hear often when the subject is change. People nod their head in agreement when a change is announced, but continue to maintain the status quo with the way they work. Some people might call it resisting change, but I don't think that's always the case. I believe that many people really want the change to succeed, but they just don't know how to proceed forward.

If you are leading a team through change, and they just don't seem to be interested in helping to make the change a reality, try these two strategies outlined in greater detail in the fantastic book, Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath:

Shrink the change.
Put yourself in their position. They are already busy, and you've just added something else to their plate. If you don't give them specific actions to take, they may see change as hard, and just keep doing what they have always done. An even better approach is to ask them what new actions they think they should take tomorrow. Their ownership in making the change successful is much better if they are using strategies they found on their own.

A good example of shrinking the change is if you want your team to improve their customer service. That sounds hard, but if you suggest that they ask more open-ended questions of the customer instead of closed-end questions, that is doable (especially if you take the next step).

Grow your people.
To use a line from my book, Always Growing, "Plants can only grow as fast as their most limiting input." If your team members are struggling to move forward with change, ask yourself, "What's limiting their growth?" If could be clear direction, training, confidence, proof, time, positive peer pressure, or a stronger sense of urgency. The additional benefit is that if you invest in growing your people now, it will make change easier in the future. You won't have to spend as much time shrinking the next change.

And when they start moving in the right direction... be the first to celebrate their progress. If they see that you have confidence in them to do the right thing when things are changing, you might not have to work as hard the next time change is needed. Wouldn't that be nice?

For more related to this topic:
8 Questions To Ask Before Asking Others To Change
3 Words That Will Expose Your Resistance To Change