Often we are told what to do during a change event. When we use a “tell” approach, however, communication is unlikely to be open and effective.
In order to get engagement from all parties involved, it is imperative to fully involve key stakeholders. Be sure to share information early and fully; explain the importance of change and ask for suggestions and possible solutions. Change needs shared ownership and ‘buy-in’ from those involved at all levels. Trying to drive change from the center without involving those on the front line can result in resentment, lack of trust, and even sabotage.
Sabotage might simply involve trashing an idea or plan, but it is useful to remember that sabotage doesn’t always mean acts of commission – it can just as easily involve acts of omission. Not sharing vital information, not pointing out potential pitfalls, not living the change can all impair change efforts.
When managing change, we must clearly communicate why change is needed, and involve those required to deliver the change in devising a clear vision and strategy for making the change. It is important to listen to local views and knowledge and to empower people to make the changes.
Typically, there are four change strategies used to drive change:
• Tell: “This is what I have decided will happen”
• Sell: “This is what I’ve decided will happen” and why
• Persuade: “Give me some alternatives”
• Engage: “What do we think?”
Studies suggest that the majority of change efforts are driven with a Sell approach. Yet, it does not hold a strong record for success. According to Professor Nutt of Ohio State University, the most successful strategy is Engage – ironically, the least commonly used approach.
To make change stick, you must affect both the mind and the heart. You need to gain emotional attachment to your change goal. When folks are emotionally attached to the goal they have ceaseless energy to pursue it, not matter how tough it gets. Use more than just financial reports and data driven presentations to get folks on board — Make your communications so compelling, motivating, inspiring and necessary your stakeholders will move heaven and earth to make it happen.
Lisa DiTullio, Founder, Your Project Office, www.yourprojectoffice.com