We’re confronted by the need to change on a daily basis. New organizational expectations require learning a new skill. External pressures mean that the team must shift their ways of working together. How do you help others quickly respond and make the necessary shifts?
Experts have made it seem that managing change is just a matter of doing the right steps in the right order. The truth is that when it comes to change (and most other things), people aren’t rational. That is, you can’t just create a one-size-fits-all transformation plan and be done with it. (Read this great McKinsey article on the “inconvenient truth” about managing change.)
Leaders have been told to craft a compelling story that will motivate others to change. In fact, there have to be many different stories, and those are best created by the people who are required to change.
As a leader, you can facilitate people’s story creation by exploring their compelling motivations. Compelling motivation is the “what’s in it for me?” that will drive commitment. You can’t tell them they have “skin in the game.” They need to identify this reason to transform.. That might be a positive reason (“a great opportunity”) or a negative one (“if we don’t change, bad things will happen”). Whatever it is, it should be significant enough to compel people to move into unknown territory.
The good news is that your job as a change leader is not to come up with the one right message. It may feel like more work to support people’s individual exploration, but it’s the right way to make sure commitment is achieved and sustained.
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