Change Happens Through People, Not By Magic

Change Happens Through People A cartoon shows 6 business people sitting around a conference table talking about change management saying "What if we don't change at all and something magical happens?"

Change Happens Through People
Though it might be tempting to wait for “something magical” to happen, real organizational change happens through people and requires a concerted, ongoing effort by the people involved.

The Wrong Approach to Change
However, many organizations take the wrong approach to driving major change initiatives. They focus on designing new systems or processes rather than focusing on motivating workers to accept and support the change that is needed. Leaders need to think through why employees would naturally resist the change and find ways to encourage them to adopt the solution.

If not, the value and success of the entire change initiative is at risk. It’s the people who deserve the focus, not just the systems and processes that surround them.

Focus On The Moments of Truth
One approach is to concentrate on the so-called “Moments of Truth.” The term is derived from the critical moment in a bullfight when the matador makes the kill. In the business world, moments of truth are those crucial or decisive times on which much depends…times that test a person and that will have an impact on the future.

In a change effort, when an employee faces a moment of truth, the behavior they choose can have an unusually large influence on colleagues or customers. It’s an eminently teachable opportunity. When these moments are observed, immediate positive feedback can have an outsized effect on the behavior choices the employee makes going forward.

How to Overcome Change Resistance
The challenge for change leaders is to overcome the legitimate reasons for employees to avoid the new, desired behavior. They may perceive it as a bad solution; they may find it difficult to learn; and they may still be rewarded by the company for the old behavior.  The old behaviors will persist unless you can:

1.  Actively Involve Employees in Designing and Defining the Right Behaviors
Actively invite and encourage all key stakeholders to work with you. Listen to their concerns and their perspective on the barriers to new behavior adoption. Enlist their help in devising ways to overcome the barriers. In so doing, you will give them a sense of ownership and, at the same time, you will build trust as a team.

2.  Adapt the Environment in Ways that Encourage the Right New Behaviors
This includes:

  • Getting buy-in from all stakeholders
  • Making sure managers and executives model the new behaviors
  • Designing appropriate internal and external reinforcement measures

You want employees to feel purpose and pride in doing work that is meaningful and doing it well. Employees deserve genuine feedback from their co-workers and appropriate recognition from their company superiors.

The Bottom Line
Strategy must go through people and culture to get implemented.  That is why organizational change happens through people.  In fact, most experienced change leaders believe it is all about the people. Only through people can real and sustainable change succeed.

To test if your change initiative is set up to succeed, download Our Research-backed Change Assessment Now

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