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Communicating Change Management:
Change Is The Same As It Always Was

By Garrison Wynn

How can management motivate people to listen? By making sure they will benefit from what is said!

A manager during change is like a sea captain, they need to get their ship together. We all realize change is inevitable. Change itself is not an issue; it’s the resistance to change that causes such problems. The resistance is naturally strong when we explain our great reform is based on doing more with less. We tell our coworkers and even our bosses that the future is based on being more productive with fewer resources. (I don’t know about you, but I always dreamed the future would somehow involve physically doing less with much more cool stuff.)

We can attempt to cultivate buy-in by explaining how to be more productive and how to lessen the cost of that productivity, ultimately enabling us to wrap our fingers around that holy grail of business achievement: profitability. But let’s get real. All signs might point to profitability as a logical product of the changes being proposed, and yet logical humans need to see how a change in process will make them look good before they will give it their all.

Through our surveys of top professionals who serve as change agents, Wynn Solutions has noticed a critical first leg of the buy-in journey. (“Critical” and “first leg”? It sounds like change is limping already!) We found that top professionals who succeed in implementing change begin by tactfully explaining that the more people focus on making change work, the more value they have to the company.

Additionally, these professionals dealt with the good-old-days syndrome that prevents some people from creating their own future. You may have heard that to spread change through an organization, you have to prove to key players that the new way is at least as good as, if not better than, the old way. You might think you need to provide some physical evidence (data) and a couple of testimonials (people thought of as straight shooters saying positive things about the changes) as well.

However, if you want people to see it’s possible to succeed by doing more with less, you need to find or create change agents who will massively benefit from the change and who have an outstanding advocate network, great communication skills and – above all – really big mouths.

Change is not the problem; resistance to change is the problem. The Gallup Institute study of eighty thousand managers and over a million employees’ shows how dramatically employee opinion can affect productivity. And while we can't control much of the world changing around us, we can control how we respond to how employees feel about a changing environment.  

When things change, people are afraid they will no longer be experts. They will have to learn the new way, and no one wants to be a senior beginner. Our studies show that to make change work, we have to prove to our key people that the change means getting results better than (or at least equal to) those achieved the old way, assure them that their experience has value, and then get them to spread that message through the organization.

Resistance management (Tactics for systematically managing resistance).  The eight most common beliefs and reasons that people resist change:

1. There isn't any real need for the change.

2. The change is going to make it harder for them to meet their needs.

3. The risks seem to outweigh the benefits.

4. They don't think they have the ability to make the change.

5. They believe the change will fail.

6. Change process is being handled improperly by management.

7. The change is inconsistent with their values.

8. They believe those responsible for the change can't be trusted.

Being prepared for the resistance and making sure your solutions fit the existing culture are the keys to making change work.  It’s important that the new way makes sense at all levels. A solution is not viewed as valuable if it just compensates for a flaw in the system.

What do you get when you cross lassie with a pit-bull? A dog that will rip your leg off and then help you go find it.  

What good is that?

Read other articles and learn more about Garrison Wynn.

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