There is a common myth out there: “people don’t like change!” I cannot disagree more. If people did not like change, why do they try a new food or a new restaurant? Why do they travel to see new places? Why do they meet new people and make friends? You got the idea…
Change is in our everyday life and we internalize it. Then, where does the perceived dislike for change come from, especially in corporate environments?
You must have heard it before that people would embrace change if they see a tangible and substantial benefit in the change. So, the first test for a change initiative is in the following two points:
- Do the leaders sufficiently and effectively communicate the purpose, methodology and expected end results to their staff?
- Do the staff understand and provide feedback on the initiative?
The first point, communicating to the personnel, is typically well-understood. Almost everyone who embarks on a change initiative does it, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The second point, however, does not get the attention it requires.
Let me give you two examples from my recent past, one of them successful, the other not.
In one case, where the objective was to improve engineering efficiency through the selection and installation of company-wide CAD tools, both points were used. The leader took the time to work the details of the plan with those whose daily practices would be affected by the end result of the initiative. The change leader gave autonomy to a few motivated employees who took it on themselves to achieve the objectives. The leader allowed modifications to the original action plan, but monitored it closely to ensure that the underlying goals were not forgotten. Staff and implementation team enthusiastically provided feedback and comments on the actions, thereby improving their chances for success. The end result was a fast and effective implementation of CAD tools, efficient training of the staff and effortless adoption of the new tools across the organization.
In another case, where the objective was to harmonize the sales team under a new set of operational rules, the second point was ignored. Those who spoke up and offered opinions were labeled as “resistors” or “saboteurs.” Change leaders weighed heavily and, usually, publicly on those who criticized the actions. In the leaders’ mind, they knew the right actions and they had explained them to the team. Any other opinion must be coming from a mindset of resistance to change. The end result was a disorganized and demotivated sales team, which led to a significant drop in sales.
I hope you find this posting helpful. I am always curious to hear your comments and feedback on my posting. You may reach me by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.