How To Change When Change Is Hard
During private lessons to learn an instrument, a teacher will give you a passage to practice. You are expected to then perform the piece or excerpt at the next lesson. One of the worst things that can happen is if you are playing a rhythm or playing a wrong note consistently because you end up practicing it, you have then embedded the wrong sequence. It is easier to learn something the right way, then to relearn something and to have to change it because you learned it the wrong way.
Change happens in companies much the same way. Employees can become used to thinking a certain way about their job and how they perform it. When you introduce a new change, such as a vision, it can create issues. People can become frustrated or even resistant to change. This can cause issues with buy-in. Some companies hire special coaches or even teams to come to help in the process of change. They can anticipate where the problems will arise, and how many employees they may lose, but most importantly they can provide them with strategies to make the change and the adoption of new ideas (vision) to go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
Preparing for Change
Below is a strategy to roll out change, specifically eliciting buy-in for a company’s vision. Here are some important areas to consider and work on before trying to roll out a new direction and vision for your employees.
1. What is the organizational environment?
The structure of your organization can have an impact on how change occurs and how information is disseminated. Does your company have a partnership structure, or do people work within silos? Is the culture based on trust? Is there an open dialog? Are people fearful of being fired for speaking up? The best possible structure is based on trust, safety, and partnerships. You may have to make some adjustments in this area, or people may not be open to other changes that they feel may put them at risk. Try to remove fear from your culture and create a more open dialog that is supported by management.
2. Be sure that your vision has credibility.
In the last chapter, we talked about how to create a solid vision, but will it work? Provide data and examples of where your vision has worked either within your company or other companies. Build their confidence before they are required to implement the changes. This ensures buy-in from the beginning. Remember that is not what you believe will work; it is what others believe that creates buy-in.
3. Start from the top.
The more buy-in you have from C-level and managers, the better chance you have of others buying into your vision. There is strength and momentum in numbers. The more people that are on board, the greater strength you will have to convince others to adopt change. Target key people that have the credibility and respect in your company to speak about the benefits of your vision and how it will change the company in a positive way. Don’t try to force changes, as this will cause resistance; rather pave a smooth path and invite people to participate in the change.
4. There is the WIII FM.
It is the official radio channel in most companies, and it is What Is In It For Me. People will have their own agendas and their own visions, and so you must try to align everyone to one vision. You have to be clear about what the benefits are in following and implementing your vision. Listen to what they have to say, and what their concerns are, but be prepared to answer those questions and turn it back into a benefit for everyone. Use the word “we” when referring to the vision. Include everyone, and everyone will feel included. This turns off the WIII FM because people will think about what is better for everyone rather than just themselves.
5. Be sure that everyone knows the ROI on accepting and implementing change.
People respond to money talk, and if you can demonstrate how following a vision will translate into dollars and cents, people will become more attentive and more likely to buy-in if they feel that it can translate into more benefits and better pay. Connect the dots for them, but do not oversell or overpromise, rather help them to see and commit to the vision of what “could” or “might” be if everyone worked together.