Strategies For Managing Change – Get People Talking

IntroductionMeaningful change in results requires meaningful change in people, processes or technology; usually all three. The difference between a passing fad and lasting change lies in the extent to which you are able to change people’s attitudes and behavior.Make no impact on attitude and your change management strategy is reduced to people going through the motions. Get them to change how they think about their work, and your chances for lasting success increase.The Leader KnowsAny boss can tell people to do something differently. Change the process in this step; start using this new system; you get the picture. A leader understands that until people start thinking differently, the change management strategy is not fully implemented.The leader also knows that in order to get people to think differently, there’s going to have to be a marketing effort. Let’s distinguish this carefully from a sell job. The goal of a good marketing effort is to create word of mouth, to generate a buzz. A good marketer knows that nothing will sell a product better than to get everyone talking about it — positively, of course. When it comes to a change management effort, the same is true.

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This is why one of your top strategies for managing change needs to be creating buzz. You have to get people talking.Actually, That Part is EasyLet’s be more specific. You have to get people talking in ways that advance your change management strategy. Because make no mistake about it; people are going to talk. When you change the organization structure, when you introduce a new process, when you replace one system with another, you’re upsetting their routine. Yes, they are going to talk.The conversations people have are going to be dictated by how much you teach them. If you make a major process change to reduce costs, and you tell people you’re introducing this major process change to drive cost out of the business, the conversation will start from that point.If the new process means more work for the people, or requires them to do something they don’t particularly enjoy doing, they will go from your starting point to discussing what they don’t like about the new process.If they conclude that they have to do more work, and as a result of that extra work you’re going to save enough money to come in under budget and get a bigger bonus this year, what kind of conversation will that generate?Try It This WayTake that same process change, but this time make the effort to explain a few more points:
The change is to reduce costs
Our cost structure is 45% higher than our competitors
Competitors are beating us on price and we’re losing market share
We can save enough to be price competitive and invest in new technology
The long term results will be new products and growth
Without this change we face a drop in sales and ultimately lost jobs

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Now when people talk, they are going to have a different conversation. In every strategy for managing change, there’s a story to be told. It starts with what you as the leader tell your people, and whatever you leave out, they fill in the blanks.For some reason, human nature is such that people most often fill those blanks with assumptions that are closer to worst case than best.The more facts and reasoning you can provide, the better the chance that people will be having the conversations you need them to have. People are going to talk. You can turn that into an advantage for your change management strategy.