Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of many organizational changes, implementations and even mergers and acquisitions. I’ve been on both sides of change, the one creating the change and the one accepting it. What I find most interesting is how even the smallest transformation creates such a sense of fear, dread and even anger amongst those being asked to change.
Most leaders all too often forget what it’s like to accept change or what it’s like to not know or be told what the big picture will mean to the organization or to the individual. I have found that fear and resistance more often than not come from the lack of knowledge about what’s going on and not really the change itself. The most successful change stories I’ve been a part of or seen are those where the leadership takes the time to clearly outline the change, why it’s being conducted, what it’s meant to do for the overall big picture and how it will affect each individual in the short term. By taking the time to frame the change in terms that employees can understand, it instills a sense of trust and can eliminate fear by replacing it with confidence. My favorite way to frame change is by asking the most resistant person if they still have the same television they did 10 years ago? Do they have the same car? Do they have a cell phone or cable TV? How about email or access to the Internet at home? All of these things have radically changed in all of our lifetimes, some it seems every six months and yet we are happy to “upgrade” or get the latest and greatest, because we can see the value in doing so. Why should businesses be any different? More often than not, this line of questioning, paired with a clear outline of how the change will happen, work and what the expected outcomes are have changed fear, dread and even sabotage to excitement, productivity and eagerness to contribute.