Albert Einstein said “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Change happens. Sometimes it comes from within our organizations, our families, or even ourselves. Sometimes change is a result of thoughtful planning, and sometimes it is thrust upon us by circumstance or necessity. As an organizational leader, it is your responsibility to not only adapt to changes yourself but to guide your coworkers through processes that may seem foreign and even painful.
We all approach change differently, and our reactions are a mix of our innate styles and past experiences. Sometimes, the way we approach change can include myths or misperceptions. Like most myths, there may be a grain of truth, but the reality is more complex!
“Crisis or fear motivates people to change”
Crisis can motivate change, but not if short-term rewards for doing nothing remain in place. Fear can be paralyzing.
“Knowing the facts compels people to change”
Facts alone are insufficient and appeal only to a small subset of any given group. The emotions attached to facts compel change.
“Small or incremental changes are easier than radical change—and easier to sustain”
Incremental change can be sustained, but few organizations have the time to implement this long-term strategy. Change is typically a response to a current need; radical change forces new behaviors and prohibits backsliding because the past is no longer accessible or feasible.
“Change is hard because our adult brains become ‘hardwired’ with maturity”
Adults may be habituated to certain behavior patterns, but they have much more capacity for most changes than younger people.
People will typically fall into one of four styles of personal change management. To respond to all the styles within your organization—including your own—you need to draw upon the strengths of each. You also need to understand the internal thought processes that may inhibit acceptance of new concepts, and how to counter them.
As a leader, managing change means drawing on the benefits of all four styles. You need the enthusiasm of your “idea people” and the optimism of new beginnings. You also need those who may hang back, who may question the need for change and require hard data to get on board. The four styles, when kept in balance, provide the right mix of creativity, data, and effective planning to make your project succeed. Think about your team, and think about your own reactions. What are the change styles that define you, and the ones that you observe in others?
- Visionaries focused on new possibilities
- Assertive, confident, outgoing
- Optimistic and confident about change
- Excel at introducing and getting buy-in to change
- Comfortable with ambiguity; can see both sides
If you are a collaborator or supporting them on your team, give them the facts and details that validate the need for change. This will help them “sell” the change to others. Provide structure and deadlines to keep them on track.
- Diplomatic and dependable
- Good listeners
- Loyal to organizations and colleagues
- Insightful about the effects of change on stakeholders
- Sensitive to the people side of doing business
If you are a protector or supporting them on your team, provide personal reassurance and appreciation. Solicit their input, and offer help with setting priorities to stay on track. Encourage them to be assertive and share their opinions. Help them develop emotional boundaries and remain open to the benefits of new ways of doing things.
- Goal and action-oriented—driving the change
- Focused on results
- Enjoy variety and a dynamic environment
- Practical problem solvers
- Decisive; get things done
If you are an initiator or supporting them on your team, give them the data and details they crave. They want bottom-line answers. They may need help with the people side of change and may need to modify their expectations to reflect the needs of others who need more time and information to fully commit.
- Serious and industrious
- Analytical, objective and business focused
- Need to understand the rationale for change before accepting it
- Provide planning, organization and structure expertise
- Good listeners; will catch inconsistencies and potential pitfalls
If you are a questioner or supporting them on your team, encourage flexibility in applying rules and structure. Watch the innate need for perfection; there will always be “one more data point” out there. Provide support in moving from data collection to decisionmaking.
Now that you can identify and appreciate the mix of change models in your team members, you are ready to move on with the processes that create successful, dynamic change in your organization. Watch for that article in our next newsletter! Your key to success is combining the skills of using logic and data while incorporating emotionally compelling needs. If you inspire hearts, the minds will follow!