Things to remember
- We are creatures of habit – people prefer the status quo
- People need to feel in control – people resist change because they feel a loss of control
- Change creates uncertainty - which creates stress and anxiety
- Change creates more work!
- It takes people time to get used to the idea of change
- Change can be a threat to one’s status/self-concept/self-image
COACHING POINT – yes, change is often triggered somewhere else (another department, from the C-suite, etc.). The “what” and “why” to change isn’t in our purview. The “how” to change (i.e. transition plan) is w/in our purview.
What to anticipate
- Quiet resistance – people won’t tell you’re their troubles but will tell anyone else that will listen
- Old baggage – people will bring up changes that weren’t smooth
- Eternal venting – we want to give people a chance to vent, but some will get stuck in venting mode
- Lost confidence – until people have success with the new change, they will lack confidence
- Demotivation – confidence precedes motivation
- Ripple effect – one change can impact other indirectly related routines
- Distractions – people fixate on unanswerable questions
- Excuse making – it’s easy to use change as an excuse for underperformance
Routines and habits to repeat
- Preview change – if a change is coming, give people a “heads up”. Acknowledge that at this point there will be more questions than answers, but as more information and specifics come available you will update them.
- Reposition “change” – while you’re previewing change, you can begin to reposition change in the minds of your team. Change is often viewed negatively, but change has many positive consequences people tend to forget.
- Develop your “change narrative” – every leader needs a compelling vignette about change. Have a short account of positive change that was originally viewed negatively.
- Use trusted messengers – enroll the right people to help you message the change
- Transition planning – include your people. Get their ideas on how best to transition and assign people roles and responsibilities
- Baby steps & short-term milestones – focus on process goals that enable the intended change
- Track & celebrate progress – this will build confidence
- Recognize your early adopters – this will motivate your laggards
Things to plan for
- if change is coming, then preview it as much as possible
- if people disengage (drag their feet), then make the status quo uncomfortable
- If people struggle w/uncertainty, then create crystal-clear transition plans w/process goals
- If you get quiet resistance, then engage people 1-on-1 (tell people what you think they’re thinking and let them respond)
- If you get eternal venting, then set a time limit (Ex. “We’re going to take the next 2-days to vent and get everything off our chests, then we need to accept and move on…”)
- If people use change as an excuse, then engage in if/then coaching
- If change becomes a distraction, then hold people accountable for daily process goals
- If change creates a ripple effect, then highlight things that remain the same
- If people fixate on old baggage, then address the past challenges/learnings in your transition plan (You can’t ignore old baggage. A good transition plan includes contingency planning. The “old baggage” included unpleasant surprises that created a negative, visceral memory. Don’t assume the same unpleasant surprise, but don’t be surprised either! In fact, do what you can to plan for it in advance.)