Nothing Ever Changes.

280560251756378010dq2dK37FcWe hear that from time to time. During initial discovery, we’ll hear employees say things like “they say they want to do things differently, but when push comes to shove, they’re averse to change.”

Or, “great ideas, but who’s going to do it….we’re short-handed as it is.” Or, “changing the system would mean completely retraining people. There’s just no time.”

Let’s break down some of these perspectives:

“They’re averse to change.”
We’ve all heard that “people are averse to change.” So, if that’s true, then how do we explain for the fact that we routinely start new relationships, move, get married, go on vacations, and change careers?” If we “people” are so averse to change, why do we repeat these things over and over throughout our lives?

The reality is that people are not averse to change, they’re averse to losing control. So much so, the mere thought of losing control raises our stress levels and creates tension. And too much tension causes paralysis. Result: Stasis.

That’s why properly preparing for and communicating change are critical first steps.

“Who’s going to do it? We’re short-handed as it is.”
I have more empathy for this response, as it usually coming from people who’ve taken on about 20% more work than is reasonably possible. Nonetheless, I’m always inclined to ask “How does being short-handed square with the company’s growth strategy? What needs to change to support the strategy?”

Sometimes the answers lie in identifying the things you could “stop doing.” An exercise like “Keep, Stop, Start” helps identify efficiencies, new resources or outsourcing options.

“To change would mean completely retraining people. They’re just no time for that.”
With the powerful technology tools at our disposal, training has never been more accessible. Given what we know about employee engagement and the cost of turnover, there’s very little excuse for companies not embracing a culture of continual improvement through training. Sure, it’s hard to turn the ship on a dime, but incremental and consistent training opportunities should be available. The most successful companies fully understand this and leverage training opportunities on a regular basis.

Companies going through sudden change brought on by a merger or acquisition, or other disruption, need to approach change more aggressively. But, they should still need to break the transformation down into small, consistent, actionable change initiatives.

Regardless of the scale or nature of change, they should begin and end with solid preparation and regular, consistent communications.