How to Change Hearts and Minds at Work

How to Change Hearts and Minds at Work
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Hearts and Minds
Successful change in the workplace requires more than just simple persuasion. To truly achieve behavioral change, change management consulting experts know that you need to harness both the hearts and minds of those affected by change – their understanding and commitment as well as their emotional energy. Change hearts and minds at work to succeed at the desired transformation.

Sure, the vision for change must make sense rationally, and the dissatisfaction with the status quo must be real. But the proposed change should also have a beneficial purpose that appeals to people’s emotions.

COVID and Changes in the Workplace
The pandemic unleashed a slew of changes to people’s personal and professional lives. COVID came with little warning and wreaked havoc with what most had considered “normal.” As we emerge from this tragic upset in the world order, there are lessons to be gleaned from how organizations handled shutdowns, layoffs, mask regulations, and mandated testing.

Helping Employees Cope
The best companies tried to thoughtfully manage change with understanding and compassion for their employees. Leaders tried to convey their support, help employees adapt to new ways of managing their jobs, and offer more flexible and remote hours so workers could tend to their families’ needs. The best followed change management tips learned through experience – whether planned or, in this case, unanticipated.

How to Change Hearts and Minds
Backed by change management simulation data, here are a few keys to effective behavioral change:

  1. A Clear and Compelling Vision
    First, leaders need to be able to clearly articulate a successful vision for change and a compelling rationale for embarking upon it. In the COVID example, the reason for change was forced upon us; change was undeniable, necessary, and urgent. The virus was rampant, and most workplaces were closed. But those organizations that focused on the future understood that their employees were looking to them for guidance.

    Wise company leaders set an example of calm, clarified and supported CDC regulations, ensured a safe working environment, offered counseling services, and worked to keep employees engaged in their jobs even while quarantined at home.  COVID proved how effective leaders can be when change is clear, transparent, urgent, and important.
  2. The Right Pacing
    Organizational change occurs in phases; it takes patience, perseverance, and continual monitoring. Although onerous at first, mask-wearing became the standard. It made sense not only because it protected the wearer from inhaling the virus, but also protected one’s family and community from further spread. People were persuaded that masks made sense for their health and for the wellbeing of others.

    Successful change leaders understand that the context of change determines the degree of transformation needed and the required timing.  Smart leaders pay attention to priority in terms of time and the rate of change required to get the desired results.
  3. Modeling by Leaders
    So many leaders and celebrities did their part to encourage social distancing, frequent handwashing, and the wearing of masks. And the media ad campaign, too, appealed to our minds and our hearts. It was simply the “thing to do” because we were all in this together and it was each person’s responsibility as a good and caring citizen.

The Bottom Line
Bain reported that only 12% of change management initiatives achieve what they set out to do. Changes fail when employees are unconvinced that change is in their best interest. COVID proved that when new behaviors make sense rationally and are desirable emotionally, any change can succeed.

To learn more about how to change hearts and minds at work, download 5 Science-Backed Ways To Lead Change

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