Thursday, 3 June 2010

2 of 5. How people change

Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves.
Lao Tzu

Many organisations develop programmes for change and then start about implementing these programmes. Usually they have snazzy titles and, of course, CEO and top management endorsement. Like good conscripts we salute the flag and implement the change programme very successfully. Wrong; 70% of programmes fail because we forget again and again that people don't resist change, they resist being told they have to or must change. The idea is getting people to choose change rather than solely resist it.

Martin Luther King did not say, "I have a very good plan," he shouted, "I have a dream!" You must provide passion and a strong sense of purpose of the change. Remember there are different ways that change comes about.

• Pain-motivated change
• Change created by being pulled toward new behaviour or ideal
• Response to information and inspiration
• Change forced by a push from someone else or by circumstances
• Change through communication, engagement and understanding

Studies show that people's ability to make a new habit permanent is based on their readiness to change. In fact, people naturally go through several different stages before a new behaviour becomes a habit. These include:

• I have seen these programmes before and they do not work.
• I have not been involved and the change will mean more work without benefit
• I do not trust the change and I will resist
• Let me see it in action and maybe I might join up
• Some people I admire are doing it
• I will test it, but if the words do not match the action I will stop
• I am engaged, trust the change, understand the change and where it is helping me

Feelings are contagious. When someone around you is feeling blue, it can bring you down. Likewise, when someone is passionate about something, it can have an inspiring effect. Build the change so that others want to be part of it. When you give them part of it, also give them the authority and control to act upon it. Share the power so that they do not feel powerless. You want them to feel useful and enthusiastic. Make them feel needed, that the change could not happen without them!

Quick tips from our change programme. In order for people to even contemplate change, they must have the following key elements:

• Those affected must be very aware of the need for the change, its impact on them and its benefit for them.
• The desire for change must be nurtured so that it comes from the inside out, not the outside in!
• Everyone must know the ideal future state and the roadmap journey, whilst having the appropriate skill, knowledge and coaching to make sure they are well equipped for the journey.
• The environment must be one of trust together with risk acceptance so that people can test the change and its impact on them in order to understand the benefits
• There must be constant role model behaviour with a supportive structure to sustain and innovate the change

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