compelling results through coaching, training & organizational development

Inspiring Others to Change

Change may be the hardest thing to 'stomach' and how could it be any different when all we hear are statements such as: Change is hard. Change is inevitable. Change is all there is. The only sure thing in this world is death and taxes. If we buy into these statements, then of course change will be unwelcome. So I ask you: What if change is good?

What if change makes things better, opens doors to opportunities, makes us better people, increases our effectiveness at work, adds to the bottom line and even makes us happier people? These are all positives, so what's so scary about change? I believe it's the unknown that's fearful. We believe putting up with the current situation even if it's not ideal is better than stepping into the unknown. In my experience working with hundreds of clients I've found change CAN be embraced if two things are present: 1) understanding the reason for the change and 2) having a plan to make the change.

What needs to be changed in your life or work place?

Is there an employee (spouse, friend) you've been complaining about? If there is such a person, and I'm sure there is, where is your complaining getting you? Are you seeing significant changes in the person due to your complaints? What are your complaints doing to your energy? Very likely you're both feeling drained and you're coming across to others as negative. So shall you just get rid of the person because they are not a team player, they have unacceptable behaviors or are not being productive?

Before you toss the baby out with the bath water, let's take a look at what might be missing in your thinking. Complaining as a strategy is rarely effective. Planning and feedback, on the other hand, are wonderful and constructive tools if used with respect and specificity.

Before you begin the feedback session (or spread your complaints to other colleagues), ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does this person know specifically what is expected of him/her?
  • How do I know they know?
  • Have we created a plan?
  • Have we set very clear performance objectives?
  • What specifically is their problem?
  • Does this person know and believe that 'Behavior A' is a problem?
  • Would a change in 'Behavior A', significantly improve our overall performance/productivity/happiness?
  • Is this relationship worth saving?

Quite often a person isn't clear on what the expectations are (to get it done, get it done on time, mentor their people in the process) OR there are conflicting or competing expectations (too many projects, two few people, too few skills). One of the greatest drawbacks to communication and performance is that people make assumptions that what I heard is what you meant; or that you understand what I want, without me having to say it. Listening intently and clarifying that what the person understands is what you intended to communicate is critical. Support the person by offering the opportunity for them to come to you with any additional clarity, needs or problems. And remember that offering a suggestion is not the same thing as specifying you want a certain thing done and by a specific date.

If the person totally understands the objectives and expectations and you have been specific and the person still has a problem or behavior that needs to be corrected, then a solid respectful feedback session is called for. However don't draw a complete black cloud over the person. If they have good qualities, a solid background of great work they've done for you, acknowledge all the good before you draw their attention to what needs to be changed. Present your case in a way that the person understands and gets onboard with the change. Change is most often successful when the person sees the need and has the desire. If the desire is low, the results are likely to be disappointing.

Once this person is ready for the change then assist them by:

  • Aligning the change with their core values (people are motivated when it's tied to their values)
  • Tie the change into the person's life and career goals
  • Create a vision - when this change is complete it will allow me (us) to                   
  • Set a goal to reach the destination by a specific date
  • Create a plan of actions and measurements
  • Create a support system

As you notice the person making progress, even small changes, be the first to offer a high five. We all lead busy lives and can use some support in the reprogramming of our brain and our habits once we realize that change is not as difficult as we were taught to believe. It really is the way we transform ourselves into not only more productive workers and better leaders but also more loving individuals.

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