Roy's Blog

May 15, 2017

6 practical ways to make change easier for people

There’s always a quid pro quo to successful implementation of any new idea.

“If I accept your direction and agree to help you (execute it) what do I get in return?” is the hidden question behind any change.

“What’s in it for me?” is the question that most implementation planning rarely asks.

What's in it for me

It’s expected that the idea will sell itself.

That people in the organization will see the light and rally behind it regardless of personal consequences. That their loyalty to the organization (and receiving a regular paycheque) will trump any negative impact the change may have on them individually.

This is rubbish of course but I would say the majority of changes sought by organizations do NOT have the detailed “What’s in it for me?” work done to make them successful.

I was recently asked by a major corporation to speak to their management team on the subject of change management. Their board had decided to move the organization to a new more modern building. Period.
The problem was that in the move, people lost many benefits they had in the old facility; smaller (or no) work stations and short commute times for example.

I was asked to come in and put a good face on the decision and provide some tips on how to deal with the employee fallout that was happening.

My challenge was that they had not done the “What’s in it for me?” work as a part of the implementation planning. Or if it was considered it was assumed not to be a big deal; that employees would be persuaded that the bigger picture would outweigh any impact the move would have on them personally.

And they would buy in.

Not likely.

Employee buy-in only happens when people can see personal benefits. Hygiene factors such as a more comfortable work environment and a shorter distance to work; career factors such as greater promotion potential and salary lift all play a more important role than the “strategic benefits” of the planned change.

Negative benefits

What are your options to sell the change if it is asymmetric in favour of the organization, and the planned change removes benefits for employees?

1. Come clean. Own up to the personal negatives of the decision. Trying to “put lipstick on the pig” won’t work; trying to finesse the downside exacerbates the situation.

2. Meet with employees to get a more granular understanding of the personal negatives of the change. Ask for opinions on how they could be addressed.

3. Emphasize the personal positives even if they are few. Look to the future and explain what will be done to make up for the hit people are taking today.

4. Be available 24X7 to answer any questions individuals have. Staff the “We’re Here” support service with your most empathetic and caring people not staffers who want to push the high level strategic reasons for the change.

5. Sweeten the offer. Add some personal positives to the plan in recognition of what is being taken away. Make the extra investment; the return will be worth it.

6. Put leadership in the hot seat to defend the plan. Leaders accountable for the change decision need to feel the hot breath of angered employees to appreciate the personal negatives of the plan. Take the punch; the leadership brand is at stake.

Any planned change requires quid pro quo work if implementation is to succeed.

Don’t rely on lofty strategic reasons to persuade anyone to support change efforts.

Make it personal.


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  • Posted 5.15.17 at 06:17 am by Roy Osing
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