My colleagues want to stick to the old ways of doing things. How do I influence them to see change?
Senior OD Catalyst
As a creature of habit, I myself don’t favour change - regardless of whether it comes in big or small packages. Over the years, I’ve learned to expect and adapt to change quickly as I’ve found that not doing so puts me at a disadvantage!
If you’ve been put in charge of a change initiative and are the one driving it, here are some tips that you could consider from someone who’s been (and still is) on both sides of the fence.
Tip #1: Make the Why personal
Oftentimes, change may come as a surprise or a shock when there’s no prior communication from anyone in the organisation. The Why of the change will probably be strongly advocated at the time of roll-out and usually done by leaders of the organisation who may not frame the change the way other employees need to see it. On the way to influencing others, you could start by making the Why personal. By letting others see how it affects you and how it doesn’t, it may be a way for them to warm up to the idea of change being a neutral thing instead of a negative thing. Once you’ve brought them to the stage of neutrality, it’s generally easier to start influencing them to see it positively.
Tip #2: Make the How digestible
Instead of pursuing change in its totality, consider breaking it down into procedural steps so that the "little tweaks" appear more digestible and manageable. Baby steps are opportunities to influence people and get them closer to their “zone of acceptance”, as opposed to them seeing the entire change as a huge, scary, life-changing tsunami.
Tip #3: Get to the software of change
My experience has taught me not to avoid the conversations about the “software" of change. We’re human beings and it’ll be unnatural to feel no anger, sadness, fear or uncertainty towards a change. Empathy can be a powerful lever in your influencing process, which involves you recognising and acknowledging that change can be scary and emotions surface as a ‘fight or flight” warning.
The key is in helping others understand that these emotions are only a source of information. How we react to this source of information is a choice, one we can only be rational about when we step back from the situation and view it objectively.
Do you have other tips to share when it comes to influencing change within your workplace? Please comment or write in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!