We All Handle Change Differently
Some of us deal with change better than others, but the key to remember is that change doesn't just happen. We all deal with it. As the leader, you need a simple method for helping your team deal with changes they need to address. What you say to them will help determine how well they succeed.
Kurt Lewin's Change Model is quite simple with 3 steps called Unfreeze, Change, Re-Freeze. Getting the team started and then moving through each phase can be challenging. But, it doesn't have to be that way. Your team needs three key ingredients from you. Once they have these three ingredients, your final task is to just ask them to get started!
We call these three ingredients for Communicating Change: the Need, the Way, and the Means. And, we will discuss LIVE on our next webinar on May 19th, 2022.
The Need... Does the audience see the need?
When do you go to the store for something? My guess is that you make that trip to a crowded parking lot and wait in line to check out at the register for more than "something to do on the weekend." You make that trip because you are very aware of a need (or sometimes a want!) to make a change. You're out of milk and you'd like to have milk. You don't have a smart TV for streaming and you want a Smart TV. You recognize the gap in your life and you realize you need to make a change to fill it.
Audiences are no different. If they see no need to change, they will stay right where they are. Some speakers approach this phase by sounding an alarm. Audiences recognize it as an emergency. When the smoke alarm goes off... it gets our attention and we jump to make an immediate change. I'd caution you on using this approach too often for two reasons:
- If the situation is an emergency for you, but not the audience, your request to make others jump will not reflect favorably on you. It could also damage any trust and rapport you have developed with your team.
- Even if this does affect the audience directly, this form of motivation doesn't tend to last. As soon as the crisis is averted, audiences tend to slip back into the old way of doing things. It can make permanent change more challenging.
The alternative is to paint a picture of a future that is much better than the current norm, which only 3 minutes ago... seemed just fine! I've seen senior leaders point out excellent sales or profit margin numbers, then shift to competitor's numbers are better. The current "win" no longer seems good enough!
The Way... Does the audience see the path?
This is the path that must be traveled to reach the shores of a new normal. In some cases the audience already knows the way. If they do, I guarantee they have an opinion on that path. In other words, they will see it as challenging or no big deal. Depending on how they see this path, you will want to take a different approach. For example, if they see this path as pure drudgery or nearly impossible, they will need encouragement and support. For the greatest of challenges, this is where you've seen speakers offer stories of overcoming the greatest odds to achieve success.
If the audience does not know the way, it will generate instant resistance to change. Situations like this require two items from you. First, they need to know you are there to provide the resources and support they will need ("the means," which we will talk about next). Second, they need to know it's possible and you believe in them. As John C. Maxwell says, "People rise and fall to the level of expectations for them." Show them giant problems have been solved before. Let them know your expectations and that you believe in them.
The Means... Does the audience have the resources?
As the leader, your team needs to know what resources they will have to complete the task, what they will need to do without, and how they may need to get creative. You can offer your support for change by telling them what resources they will be able to use. This reminds me of a business game we played in one of our leadership workshops where the group was divided into teams and put into a scenario where they were dog sledding and one teammate fell through the thin ice. They had to select which path they would execute and which 4 resources they would keep.
Give your team what they need or be truthful in what they will need to do without. Then, show them you believe in their creativity and you support them.
It's simple but not easy...
But that doesn't mean we don't try. We need to always remember our teams require three ingredients from us to make a positive change.
- They see a real need to change and they can see it and they believe in it
- They know the path or realize they will need to embark on a expedition to pioneer a new path
- They know what resources they have and what they will need to do without
One final note... please understand that every audience will have one question floating around in their brain with all three of these ingredients. That question is "Why?" So be prepared to address the why question for each ingredient. Why the need to change? Why this path? Why can't we have this resource?
Join our Communicating Change Webinar on Thursday, May 19th if you want to hear more.
Until next time...
Russ Peterson Jr.
Russ Peterson Jr. is the co-founder and President of iSpeak, Inc. – An award-winning professional development training company. Russ is a speaker, international trainer, and published author on Professional Sales Communication and Business Communication. He delivers workshops, keynotes, and personal communication coaching services to business professionals in the US and around the world. iSpeak helps people build stronger relationships and achieve more through better communication. You can connect with Russ directly through LinkedIn.
P.S. Will you be at ATD22 in Orlando on May 16-18?
If so, come by our booth (#1036) and say howdy! If you mention you read this blog post we’ll give you a free hard-cover edition of our presentation messaging book Corporate Ovations. See you in a few weeks!