Helping people manage change


New years is right around the corner. This means people all over the world are making resolutions to change. Most of them are going to fail. I don’t say this to be pessimistic. It is just that realistically understanding why people fail to change is the key to helping make sure that we, ourselves, do.

The first thing we need to realize is that change takes time. We can’t just decide to change and then change. We have to work on unlearning our old counterproductive habits and replacing them with new, improved and more productive habits.

Whether it is learning to eat better, or not being so judgmental about other people. Old habits are hard to break and to break them we need gentle reminders to do and be better. And we need those reminders to be consistent over time until the new habits are habitualized. 

The more we practice the new habits, the easier they become. If you a manager of other people and you are trying to help change the business practices of your organization, the most important thing you can do for your staff is to give them the time they need to adopt the new ways of doing things and to provide compassionate gentle nudges to encourage them to continue adapting to the changes.

Always remember, everyone reacts to change differently. Some people embrace change quickly. Some, like my husband, are more wary of change and they need to see others embrace it and succeed with it before they will even consider making the changes themselves. So stagger your change across the organization. Look for early adopters and get them going first. Then look for most everyone else to adapt those changes and finally, realize that there will always be feet draggers. They aren’t dragging their feet to be difficult, they just need more time to adjust and respond to change and they are often pretty stubborn so pushing them isn’t going to get them on board, it will only create resentment. They key to getting the feet draggers is to help them see how much happier and effective everyone else is now that they have embraced the needed changes and that they should too.

Remember, everyone responds to change differently. Your job as their manager is to help them adapt to change in a way that respects them for the individual they are and without treating them like a programmable robot.

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