How Times Change

And yet, some things always remain the same. Like, how many of us hate change!

Routines are comforting.  We don’t have to think too much about them. We just do them, as if on autopilot and stuff gets done.  Like, laundry, or filing an annual report, or any number of mundane work tasks.

Workplaces are filled with repetitive tasks.  It’s not just manufacturers who stick to their processes. All workplaces do.  Whatever it is that has to get done, from cooking a hamburger to new client intake, to payroll all has a process.

And these processes are really helpful. They can help us get a lot of stuff done very quickly and with minimal error; precisely because – they are done the same way every time.

Processes are only a problem when we need to change them.  And suddenly all heck breaks loose.

No one knows what they are supposed to do anymore. No one knows who is responsible anymore. The new system doesn't seem to work as well as the old one. Why did management think we needed to change when the old way worked so well!  We have all been there and done that. It’s even painful to think about.

And yet, change sometimes is necessary. If a process isn't working, it needs to be changed.  So how do we help our staff change when it is necessary with as little trauma as possible so that their sanity and ours is saved?

The answer has to do with understanding how habits are formed and more importantly, how we unlearn old habits. Every business process is completed through habit.  And old habits are hard to break. Understand that going in and your change management process will go a LOT smoother.  It will still be a bit painful, but you will at least make the transition a little easier.

When we look at companies who do this successfully we see that their training programs are designed to foster new habit formation.  They don’t just tell everyone – hey – do it this new way and hope for the best. They train them on the new way – for about a month - until their employees can do the new process by habit – and THEN they turn them loose on the new systems. This is a pretty common practice at some of the larger restaurant chains whenever they roll out a new food item on their menu.

Companies who employ white collar workers should pay attention and learn from the success of others. If you want a smooth transition to the new way of doing things – learn how habits are formed and put in the time and energy needed to help your employees learn the new habits you want and need them to adopt.

To learn more – consider taking our “Why is Change so Hard?” e-course at Humanist Learning Systems.

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