Why is organizational change so challenging and how can we do it better?

“People don’t resist change. They resist being controlled.”

We love this concise, demystifying video on “Leading People Through Change” by Pat Zigarmi of the Ken Blanchard Companies.

In just 6 minutes, Zigarmi takes us through the 6 predictable stages of concerns that people have about change and shows us how to deal with them simply and effectively. Here’s a summary.

Stage 1: Information Concerns

People want to know what the change is about and why we need to change. They don’t want to be sold on the change. They want the facts so they can draw the same conclusions. In planning for change, as a leader ask yourself:

What do I know, that if my people knew, they could come to the same conclusion?

Don’t underestimate how smart your people are. By involving them in reaching your same conclusions for the need for change, you get buy-in and commitment to embrace it.

Stage 2: Personal Concerns

It’s natural for people to ask, “What’s in it for me? Will I win or lose? How is this going to affect me?” So facilitate meetings that balance a healthy dose of asking and telling:

Imagine if we have succeeded in making this change – how might it benefit you?

Be up-front about the temporary pain and sacrifices people may need to make to enjoy the benefits of the change (e.g. adjusting to the style of a new manager or learning new skills.)
Communicate examples of “benefits” and “wins.”

Stage 3: Implementation Concerns

People need to be clear about how the change is going to work and where they can turn for help. Create clear agreements and implementation plans with clear responsibilities and ownership for outcomes that answer this question:

How will we know 100 days from today that this change is working and that we are reaping the intended benefits from the change?

Stage 4: Impact Concerns

People will want to know if the change is really making a difference. So plan for short-term wins. Communicate regularly and encouragingly. Expect setbacks in the early days as new habits are forming. Give people a balanced view and share the positives so they can see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Stage 5: Collaboration Concerns

Get everyone that needs to be involved on board. It is natural for people to think “yes, I’m all for this but what’s the point if others aren’t?” Be proactive about ensuring that implementation plans involve a broad range of people and create ways for people to openly express ideas with each other and be involved.

Stage 6: Refinement Concerns

Last, but not least, put in place a way to monitor concerns and proactively address them so that you are continually refining and improving your implementation strategies.

“The people who plan the battle do not battle the plan.”

In short, to succeed at change management, plan a high people involvement strategy. Give people an opportunity to have their voice heard. Create a change strategy that includes workshops, coffee sessions, dedicated change and communication agents, portals for two-way dialogue, training and communicating of wins to reinforce beliefs that the change is working.

Remember that research has shown that one of the primary sources of optimal motivation is autonomy. So give your people a voice and listen to it. When they feel the change is being done with them and not to them, everyone moves it forward with much more positive energy and without fear and resistance.