Managing Change in your Organization
I recently taught a seminar to manufacturing leadership and the topic of conversation turned to change management. Specifically, the conversation was about dealing with resistance to change. One of the students at the seminar mentioned that when change is forced on people, it is rarely accepted or successful. I think she’s right.
Keep the Change, Please
If you have a change to implement in the organization, do you simply go to your people and tell them what the new policy or procedure is? Or do you solicit their input first? I’ve made an interesting observation about these two approaches over the years. If you do the former, you are often met with a lot of excuses and reasons why your solution won’t work. A common thread I heard in my early years on the manufacturing floor was, We tried (fill in the blank) years ago and it didn’t work! Ever hear that in your organization? On the flip side, if you approach the team and ask for potential solutions to a problem, you will often hear, Well a few years ago we tried (fill in the blank), and it worked out ok. Do you see the difference in responses to the two approaches? Both scenarios are talking about the same solution to the same problem. But there are two different perspectives on the outcome of the solution. What caused the difference? The approach from the leader.
You see, when you force change on someone, the immediate involuntary reaction is to resist. People are naturally comfortable with the status quo, and shifting away from normal conditions raises a sense of fear deep down in our core. So when you are able to ask questions that open up our minds to see other realities, our paradigm shifts and we begin to accept the fact that change may be a good thing. Ask questions that help people arrive at the conclusion by themselves, rather than you telling them the answer. This automatically creates buy-in and interest in the solution. You may be surprised by the solutions they might be different than your original idea (perhaps even better).
Make it a part of your organizational culture to solicit input from your people. When the time comes to make the decision, you are still in charge; you decide which solution to implement. Your people may not always agree with the decision, but with your culture of involvement, they will respect your decision because they know you have truly respected their input.