Change Management: Can People Really Change?

Jann FreedLeading Leave a Comment



For the past few months, I have been working with a large insurance company about change management.  I developed monthly workshops based on The Genysys Group Change Readiness Assessment that emphasizes the leader’s role in making change and creating a culture where people want to work.  The focus of each workshop is how to help leaders make changes around a shared vision while creating a culture where people feel comfortable making change.

We have had conversations on the type of changes needed and the forces for these changes.  Likewise, we talk about the obstacles holding people back from making these changes and how to overcome these obstacles.  We have discussed the value of “small wins” or ways to celebrate even the small changes made so that people feel some momentum and progress.

All of the changes should be based on a vision and how to articulate or even illustrate the vision to keep it in front of people as a form of GPS–keeping people on the right path going in the right direction.  Our job as leaders is to “paint the picture” of where we are going.  One example I use is that of a jigsaw puzzle.  How easy would it be to put the puzzle together if we did not have the picture on the cover?  Not easy.

So leaders need to consistently and in a variety of ways describe the “picture on the cover.”  The puzzle pieces can be people, department, divisions, or whatever the parts are that need to be moving toward the desired future.

After one of the workshops, one of the participants asked me:  “Can people really change? Do you really think we can help people make change?”

My initial response was that it starts with awareness of the changes that need to be made.  People need to know about the changes and want to change.  I said that we always hear about drug and alcohol treatment programs that stress how people have to want to change–that we can’t make them change.

Then I used the example of cell phones.  Just a few years ago before any meeting or public speaker, we would be reminded to “turn off your cell phones.”  Now it is rare that someone has to say that.  We have changed our behaviors because we are aware of the need to do so.  Another example might be with recycling.  It is hard for me to throw most things away.  I am always looking for ways to recycle, reuse, repurpose because I am aware of the need to do so because of the environment.

I saw a bumper sticker on a car that says it all:

Change is inevitable–growth is optional.

We need to embrace change and view it as an opportunity.

What are your thoughts on change?

How are you helping people feel comfortable with change?

Please share what works with you.