For some, change is hard. When they have been doing something for years, trying something different can feel like it’s threatening their very existence.
And who can blame them? Things seem to work. They have got this far without deviating from what they’re trying to achieve. They like how things are. They’re comfortable. So why bother?
I get it. I really do. But, as we all know, change is an inevitable part of life. And if we want to change how someone does things, we have to firstly be empathetic. We have to really show that we get it. That it’s scary. That it might be hard, initially. And that we’re committed to helping them.
The second thing to consider is that driving change is similar to selling a product. We need to sell the change. And part of that involves being incredibly clear on what the problems are, what problems keep our people up at night, and most importantly, how does the change we seek to make benefit that person in their situation.
Why is this important? It’s important because we want to create sustainable change. Change that people are bought into. Change that really makes a difference. Without putting in the effort into selling the change, the best case scenario is that we create change that results in people feeling ignored and frustrated. And will at the first hurdle, give up. The worst case scenario is that we actually don’t deliver any change, and we end up wasting huge amounts of time and effort.
Thirdly, it’s important to consider the importance of being flexible. The purpose and goal should be clear and shared. This is something that cannot be deviated from. However, how you get there should be a collaborative approach. For example, if the goal is to change the way someone allocates work, the emphasis should not be on using an Excel spreadsheet or a complicated piece of software.
It’s whatever the person feels comfortable with. Is it a whiteboard? Is it a piece of a paper? Don’t let your ideal, preferred “how” get in the way of creating a new behaviour. Change is a process, and we have to begin somewhere. You have to let the change (with support), ignite the fire of “wow, this works. Let’s see what else we can do!”. Further, it has to be their change. They have to own it. The best projects I’ve worked on are those where people have actually named the new control or way of working. They’ve decided on what colour the new whiteboard should be, the way the new control looks and feels. So give them the chance to contribute to the solution. Engage with them. Give them the tools and the permission, to create the change they seek to make.