I don’t know about you, but I really get a kick out of people asking me for my advice which I guess is a good thing given the line of work I do!
This week a leader who participated in a workshop I ran months and months ago on influencing change reached out to me for some help.
He had identified a roadblock most leaders encounter when they are introducing change, his people were resistant to it!
During the program I introduced him and the other participants to a communication model I have been using for decades that covers off on all learning styles, thinking styles and personality types which means it caters to pretty much everyone in the room or in his situation his entire organisation.
In our discussion I asked him what parts of the model he had and hadn’t applied in his communication, and he admitted more of the parts he felt comfortable with.
Which of course is what we tend to do when we are pressed for time and juggling hundreds of priorities. We also know that when it does not work out, we think about all of the things we could have done differently – hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Throughout our 60-minute power session hindsight was able to help us ascertain he had jumped into “the what and how” part of the change and dismissed “the why” – the reason for the change and the positive benefits it would have on his people.
He like many of us was keen to communicate what would happen and how it would take place and forgot one of the most important parts of influencing change is to associate the change to the people that it is affecting.
And he is not alone, many change communication efforts fail because of this very thing. In fact, brain science tells us that when you fail to establish personal meaning and get buy-in from the people you are guiding, they take their time getting on board and are more likely to push back and resist the change altogether.
When people understand the reasons behind a change, they are more likely to be motivated to make it happen. They can see how the change fits into the bigger picture and how it benefits them, their team, or the organisation as a whole.
When leaders skip the “why” and jump straight to the “what” and “how” of change, it can create confusion and resistance. People may feel like the change is being imposed on them without any understanding of why it’s necessary or what problem it’s intended to solve. This can lead to resistance, scepticism, and a lack of engagement.
Additionally, when people understand the “why” behind a change, they are more likely to be creative and proactive in finding ways to implement it effectively. They can see how the change connects to their own values and goals, and they are more likely to take ownership of the process.
In summary, communicating the “why” in change is essential to getting buy-in, establishing personal meaning, and motivating people to take action. It helps to create a shared vision and purpose that can inspire and unite people around a common goal.
Change and communicating change is not always easy but it can be done if you take the time to stop and think about the why, what, the how and the what if!
If you are keen to learn more about communicating and leading change, check out the various workshops I offer.