Making Change A Reality

Pick up any newspaper or business magazine, switch on your radio or turn on the TV and chances are that you will hear something about organisations that are:

• In the process of making change

• In discussion about some form of change

• About to start some form of change

• In the middle of change

For leaders, making change is just part and parcel of being in the role.

At the same time it is important to remember that while there may be a desire at senior levels to make change, making it a reality is a different thing altogether.

When I hear people talking about making change, a lot of the time the discussion revolves around tools, process and structure.

While these are obviously important, the most important and most challenging is to change hearts and minds.

It really does not matter how fantastic your process is, unless you shift thinking you are merely scraping the surface.

So you are probably wondering how do I go about changing hearts and minds and shifting thinking.

The first vital ingredient is to acknowledge that people will have worries and concerns. People are human beings with commitments and families to look after. They are worriers and that’s why you cannot expect people on mass to say great and buy into what you want to achieve.

Secondly you need to find a way of creating the opportunity for people to air their worries and concerns. The mind has a tendency to go into overdrive when faced with uncertainty and people start worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong. The key is to be willing to listen without judgement or a personal agenda.

Thirdly once you have listened to views, worries and concerns you need to demonstrate to people that you have really taken account of what they raised. Now let’s be clear. I am not saying that you need to take account of everything that was raised. At the same time you need to make people aware of the decisions of the decisions you have reached and the reasoning behind those decisions. Be willing to let people know that it is impractical to get the perfect outcome for everyone.

Fourthly paint a very clear picture of what the future will be like. In doing this make it clear what the benefits are going to be. While it is obviously important to highlight the benefits for the various stakeholders, don’t forget to make the employee benefits clear too. We all to a greater or lesser extent tune into our own radio station WIFM (What’s In It For Me) when looking at any change.

Finally focus on getting a critical mass to support change. Remember in any change situation there will be:

• A small proportion that will support everything (about 5%)

• A small proportion that will totally resist (about 5%)

• A huge majority (about 90%) who support or resist depending on how good a job you do at changing hearts and minds

Making Change A Reality Bottom Line: Change and the change management processes only matters once you have the critical mass that are ready to move forward and make it happen. Focus first on changing hearts and minds.