If you are dissatisfied, you probably want change. Try imposing change on another person, and you will discover that most people aren’t interested. Another person may be dissatisfied, but they probably aren’t ready to sign onto your vision. Intentional change often fails.
Change is all around us. I think we live in an era when change is accelerating. Our children learn to be comfortable with more change than we were, and we wonder that our parent’s lives were remarkably tranquil with little change.
Leadership Coaching for an Emerging Change Master
Some change just arises from natural conditions. Markets change, new products arise, people move on. Another change is prodded forward by an emerging change master. The change master agitates for new conditions. Why does this kind of change fail?
People stop change from happening. That is not the only reason, yet when a leader says, “We’re going this a-way” other people may not be convinced. A good leader takes care to sign people up. It takes a lot of work. Individual motivation has to be understood, and a lot of listening is needed as well. People will either sign on to the change process, or fight against it. Some people resist openly. Other peopled resist in nuanced, subtle ways.
Some people will do all that they can – even under orders to cooperate – to hinder a determined change effort.
Don’t Let Culture Tune You Out of Change
In many cases, change efforts fail because the goal of the change is too radical when compared with the existing tenets of the workplace. Imagine that you can have a dialogue with the workplace culture:
• YOU: We’re going to change the way we work!
• CULTURE: I don’t know, that doesn’t sound good.
• YOU: Wait until you see how this works – you will love it!
• CULTURE: Sorry, I’m not buying it. Sure you speak up and make a lot of noise. But everyone’s listening to me! And that goal you have – that’s extreme for us!
• YOU: We can do it! We’re strong, and I have a lot of good ideas.
• CULTURE: OK, you made your point. Time for me to do internal maintenance. Bye bye, little man.
And with that, the culture has tuned you out, to do something more familiar and secure to it. If you try to bring up the change effort again, the culture has already decided that you are a waste of time.
Some change efforts will fail because of a poor plan. The leader has not considered what is coming up, how extreme the change is, or what people’s needs are. Even if people get on board the plan, some change efforts start out with failure and don’t seem to make progress after that. With each milestone that fails, the chances of building momentum with a change effort drop significantly. After three failed events, the chances are huge that the change effort is already history.
Has the change effort been deemed important by the executives in your company? How about a few people throughout the company who may not be C-level, yet are highly influential? Every organization over 15 people has coalitions that matter, and not every coalition leader wants your change program. Have you included the influential voices in your company with your program of change?