Both Sides of Change

So the question was asked this week, “why can’t we get people to change”. It always comes down to two reasons, however, the problem is most leaders in organizations only consider one of the two. Therefore, no change. The two reasons people change is they have a balance between a reason to change AND a reason to stay the same. They both have to be uncovered and communicated in order to affect change. The reason to change now just has to outweigh the reason to stay the same but know they are very very different reasons.

Think of a person who is averse to change, yet they are married. Marriage is a huge life-size change yet they did it, so why. Because they saw both a reason to get married, AND a reason to not be single, and the reason to get married was bigger than the reason to stay single. So marriage it is. To answer the question we started with, “why can’t we get people to change”, is better approached by understanding what reason people have to stay the same. Because until you can get the change resister to verbalize, understand, and describe why staying the same is so important, you can’t make the reason to change bigger than the reason to stay the same.

Questions you might ask to help people verbalize why it is so important for them to stay the same:
– What does it mean to you to stay in your current role or location?
– Describe why staying the same makes you feel comfortable?
– While you are staying the same, share what is changing around you and how that affects you?
– Think of a friend or loved one who you had to coach through change, how did you get them to understand their reason for staying the same?
– Now that you have shared your reason for staying the same, what would an acceptable reason to change look like? What does getting from here to there look like?

So understand, people don’t change because they don’t want to. They actually have a legitimate reason to stay the same. When the organization begins to embark on new strategic direction, it is futile to only talk about the new world, the new changes, the new dynamics and all of the wonderful benefits to people and the organization because there is a whole other world of conversations that needs to be addressed in order to get from here to there. People also have a reason to stay the same. Identify that reason, put it into words, so you can build a reason to change that is bigger than one’s reason to stay the same. That’s how people change.