Have you ever had to change your diet? I changed my eating habits seven years ago and it involved taking probiotics, Vitamin D and fish oil on a daily basis. Guess how long it took me to actually become consistent? To be honest, I’m still struggling with my Vitamin D intake…! I was one of those early adopters of the Paleo Diet (don’t worry this blog is not about Paleo!)
When I decided to change from Apple iPhone to Samsung Android, the change did not come easily (don’t worry this blog is not about iPhone versus Android either!) It took me a while to find a good tutorial on how to transfer iTunes to Android. It’s not that I was resisting, it’s that I didn’t understand the communication that had been provided to successfully make the change.
To break the barrier of change, you will need to include 5 crucial elements in your strategy:
Information – Influence – Inspire – Involve – Engage
This is the story about how I learned and applied this strategy!
Breaking the barrier of change : change cycle
Whether it is business or personal, the change cycle remains the same:
- You become aware
- You get more information
- You evaluate your options
- You try
- You adopt the change
Breaking the barrier of change : types of personalities
The difference in business is that the change that you are about to implement involves many people of many different backgrounds and education levels that may or may not be ready to change. These are the types of personalities that you may find in any given organization:
The early adopters: Bring on the technology changes … they are ready and looking forward to using it; they will be good ambassadors!
The early majority: They are willing to try and talk about it; they are active on social networks and therefore can help you to communicate the change.
The late majority: They’ll follow if they have to; they won’t really talk about it with everyone. It’s just something they have to do to adapt.
The laggards: They have resisted, but in the end, everybody is doing it … “Maybe I should too.”
May I also add another group?
The forever resistant: No matter how good the change, they don’t like it. They don’t have a smart phone; they have never heard of Netflix, and let’s forget about Airbnb and Uber… Nothing new will excite them. They know better. They have been doing “this” for over 20 years exactly the same way and they want to keep it that way, because it works.
You can get all these personalities to accept change with a good communication plan, leadership and help from the ambassadors of your organization. For those “forever resistant,” my only suggestion is to either be extremely patient (in some cases, I have been successful only after three years). Include them in other activities that may motivate them to change, or let them go. Sometimes, there is just no better solution. Is it a failure in leadership? Maybe, but if the “forever resistant” is acting as a negative leader and poisoning your other types of adopters, it may be costly to try to persevere.
Breaking the barrier of change : communication
So how do you put all this together and get people to embrace change? You communicate clearly!
When is the best time to communicate? At the awareness stage. When you become aware that there is a problem, or some urgent need for improvement that will require organizational change, communicate it! Ask for advice from your employees and get them involved! Are they not providing feedback? That happens unfortunately. My suggestion is to then communicate your ideas, how you see things, and insist on their feedback. Sometimes you’ll be surprised… Experiment and try something new!
I tried the same project at work twice. Once I failed, the second time I succeeded. But I used completely different strategies each time:
In 2014 I failed when I initiated a squat challenge. I invited friends and staff to join me. We are a small IT firm of 40 employees. We have a diverse group from all types of education levels, ethnicity and ages! I simply posted that I was doing a squat challenge and included a chart. A few employees showed up for the first couple of days (it was a 30 day challenge); but it quickly tapered off and I ended up alone with some of my Facebook friends ready to finish it!
In 2015, I tried again. I started by announcing it via email three weeks in advance to all my employees. I provided more details about how we were going to complete the challenge. For example, that it was going to be held outside, every day at 2:00 PM. This time, 12 people replied back positively immediately (the early adopters). One of the early adopters, Sharon, started to motivate people in the office and push them to join the challenge (an ambassador). During the course of the three weeks leading up to the challenge, the early and late majority joined, influenced by another ambassador, Dawn. By D day, I had almost every employee signed on to complete the challenge! Every day we would meet outside and squat. When done, we would congratulate each other. I would often send emails about the benefits of doing squats. People started to feel stronger. We would encourage each other and celebrate the daily workout. I had employees ranging in age from 22 to 71, squatting every day with me. I created two groups to adapt to the different levels of physical capabilities (The DOS group and the Windows 10 group). My 71 year old boss, Sam, joined the Windows 10 group and persevered until the end (inspiring!). More than 2/3 of the people that signed up completed the challenge! The days I was absent from the office, another employee would take over and lead the groups. They were all engaged and involved! Bringing all the departments together to achieve a simple 30 day challenge still required a strategy, a good process, and a great deal of communication!
All the elements for success were incorporated:
- They received sufficient information to make a decision
- I had ambassadors to influence the mass
- They were inspired throughout the challenge
- They were involved
- They felt engaged and accountable to the success of our challenge
So this is what leading change is all about- Communication! From day one, when thinking of change, get out there and use all the available means to get people involved. This simple team building activity taught me so much about my employees. I encourage you to try something… anything! It will help you with the process of change and will allow you to determine who is likely to be your ally, and who is likely to challenge your leadership skills.
Sophie Barbara Desilets
I hope you enjoyed the read! This is my first blog post, with many more to come, about optimization and efficiency, process automation, communication, change management, as well as various other tools. I will also be blogging with some of my partners and colleagues within the industry – sharing our knowledge and insight and offering helpful tips and solutions! Stay connected!
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Diffusion of innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations; the book was first published in 1962, and is now in its fifth edition (2003)