A senior leader of one of my clients said today:
I have the feeling, that change and change management have become empty phrases. A lot of people talk about it, but no-one really knows, what it means, and there is nothing tangible following the words…(SVP Commercial Sales, Industrial Manufacturing)
I have to agree with him, because I have reached the point where I don’t even hear me say the word “change” anymore. That’s probably the destiny of an evangelist: you have to keep saying it, make it tangible and help people to understand what it means.
Otherwise it will actually stay an empty phrase for good.
Why change is so hard.
There is no better way of putting it than the following cartoon strip does:
Whenever it’s time to act, the audience gets thinner and thinner and the line of volunteers and heroes gets shorter and shorter. Because change sounds good, but it comes at a price…
And I am certain, you’ve seen this before:
Triggers to make things stick.
Athletes know the drill: without embedding your physical challenge into your daily life every day, there will be no progress. You don’t become a long distance runner with the occasional jog, you won’t get the beach body from the weights you swing round twice month.
To establish something new, it’s helpful to have a ritual. Something everyone does, every day, for at least 30 days. Then the ritual becomes a habit and it will be hard to give it up again.
Most likely the things to be done will still be there. Not matter if it’s at the work place or anywhere else in life. If you want to introduce “new ways of doing things”, you need to alter existing routines and make room for the new stuff. That “new piece” can be a tool, an approach or simply a way of starting a conversation.
Celebration of Success
We need to be kind to ourselves. It’s not always the won sales deal, the stronger abs or the better time for the mile. We need to celebrate success along the way, the newly established habit or simply the awareness for the new. Celebration is emotional, and positive emotion helps to endure the efforts of change.
But be prepared for setbacks!
There will be days, where your mile feels like eternity. There will be days, where the scales tell you: nah, not even close.
Be prepared for that. Be prepared to be resilient.
In business, this means that you have to accept the fact that it won’t be a smooth ride all the time. If a lot of people are confronted with change, anxiety and fear aren’t strangers to the game.
Embrace frustration & fear
New stuff can be scary and people usually don’t embrace change naturally. We need to develop a “we help each other along the way” mindset. We have to tune our radar to capture the little signs of discomfort and intercept early to not even let the bad feeling establish itself properly.
We need to learn to care for each other more, also at the workplace.
Share the discipline to stick with it
Don’t give up. Don’t fall back to old ways, because you know how to trick and fix them. Share discipline to give it another try. Be in it together to try, fail, try again, fail even harder and then succeed. It will be worth it in the end!
Change is a constant in today’s world.
BCG’s Jim Hemerling takes about 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change. It was one of the TED talks I watched this week over my home office lunch, my 30 minutes of daily inspiration. With that video I want to close today’s post – because essentially it says it all, and I wish I could spend one dinner with Jim to talk about his talk.