The Irrational Side Of Change Management
According to research, only one out of three change programs succeed.
Below are nine insights into how human nature gets in the way of successfully applying the conditions required for behavioral change:
1. What motivates you doesn’t motivate most of your employees
According to research five forms of impact motivate managers and employees the most —society, customer, company and its shareholders, working team and impact on ‘me’ personally. This has profound implications for leaders who need to be able to tell a change story that covers all five things that motivate employees.
2. You’re better off letting them write their own story
Well-intentioned leaders should invest significant time in listening, not telling the change story. According to human nature, when we choose for ourselves, we are far more committed to the outcome. Sustained energy and commitment is needed to drive change that comes through a sense of ownership.
3. It takes a story with both + and – to create real energy
There is the ‘deficit based’ approach—which identifies the problem, analyzes, plans, and then takes action. And there is the ‘constructionist based’ approach, where the change process is based on discovery, dreaming, designing, and destiny. While it is impossible to prescribe how much of each message should be communicated, it is advised not to swing the pendulum too far in one direction or another.
4. Leaders believe mistakenly that they already ‘are the change’
Most executives don’t count themselves among the ones who need to change. The truth is that, the real bottleneck to role modeling is knowing what to change at a personal level. Typically, insight into what to change can be created by concrete 360-degree feedback techniques, either via surveys, conversations, or both.
5. ‘Influence leaders’ aren’t a panacea for making change happen
Success depends less on how persuasive a few selected leaders are and more on how receptive the ‘society’ is to the idea. In practice, it is often unexpected members of the rank and file who feel compelled to step up and make a difference in driving change.
6. Money is the most expensive way to motivate people
Many studies have found that for human beings satisfaction equals perception minus expectation. The beauty of this equation for change managers is that small, unexpected rewards can have disproportionate effects on employees’ satisfaction with a change program.
7. The process and the outcome have got to be fair
In making any changes to company structures, processes, systems, and incentives, change managers should pay what might strike them as an unreasonable amount of attention to employees’ sense of the fairness of the change process and its intended outcome.
8. Employees are what they think, feel, and believe in
As managers attempt to drive performance by changing the way employees behave, they all too often neglect the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that, in turn, drive behavior. Insightful training should be expanded to include elements related to personality types, emotional intelligence, and vocational identity to deliver sustainable results.
9. Good intentions aren’t enough
Good skill-building programs should not be a one-off event and should include fieldwork assignments that have quantifiable, outcome-based measures that indicate levels of competence gained and certification that recognizes and rewards the skills attained.
The practice of change management is in need of a transformation through an improved understanding of how humans interpret their environment and choose to act.