Why is it that change is so hard for so many of us? Me included. First, as human beings we don’t like uncertainty, and change – almost any type of change – inherently involves at least some element of risk. Strike one!
Secondly, some people may associate change with a loss of power or a diminished position of authority. This perception may even extend so far as to represent a threat to job security. Strike two!
Finally, in some instances where complacency has taken hold of an organization, some people are just anchored to the status quo. Change to them means hard work and that might be a price they are unwilling to pay – even in the face of financial loss or missed opportunity. As Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is often missed because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.” Strike three!
No matter how great your vision, no matter how brilliant your plan, any effort at organizational change is doomed unless the level of dissatisfaction of all participants is high enough to overcome the “three strikes”. In other words, unless the anticipated outcome of the change invokes a strong desire in the individual to want what the promise of change offers, there is little hope for a successful outcome.
So what does this mean for leaders? You have to paint a picture of what the outcome of the change will look like and contrast it to the likely outcome if no change is made. It needs to be compelling and it needs to inspire your people in a very real way – now is no time for manipulation. Be prepared to deal with objections and be honest. Your people are looking for a reason to follow you. Are you ready to step up to the challenge? Batter up!