Why Influence and Change Matters: Change is a journey not a destination

Why Influence and Change Matters: Change is a journey not a destination

By on Sep 27, 2021 in Change Management, Managing People | 0 comments

Talk presented by Warren Howard. Director Howardco Business + HR Solutions. Presented at the YTM Awards on 31st August 2021.


Without Change there is no Progress.

Without Influence there is no Change.

For most of my career I have worked with organisations and individuals to help them manage and lead successful change.

What I have learned is that:

If you want to people to own change. You need to bring them with you. You see Change is a Journey not a destination.

Let me give you an example:

When I was a young Consultant, I was asked to visit a client site to talk them about a new system they were implementing.

As soon as I arrived, I could tell they were not happy.

To give you the full picture these guys were quarry workers, and they broke rocks for a living. And by the look of some of them they could do that with their bare hands!

The problem was they hadn’t been consulted about the change. Had no idea why it was happening. They had questions and they wanted answers.

What I learned from this is that many people don’t like change. Especially when it is imposed on them.

I recalled some very valuable advice I was given by my Manager at the time. He said, “Warren, remember not everyone is as excited about Change as you are”

Now, raise your hand if you have experienced a change that was handled badly.

Is it any wonder then that Research by Global Consultants McKinsey & Co. found that 70% of Organisational Change efforts fail to achieve their stated goals.

The Human Experience

And I believe this is mainly due to a failure to recognise that change is a human experience.

It is all about People.

Some leaders treat change like a transaction. Like flicking a switch to get from A to B.

These leaders get so caught up in the end game that they forget about the journey it takes to get there.

People need time, encouragement and support to make the transition.

You need to understand what Influences people to Resist or Embrace change.

And the most powerful influence is FEAR.

Fear of loss and fear of the unknown are two of the most powerful barriers to change.

You see if we feel like we are going to lose something we value like control or power. Then we will challenge the change.

And it seems we would rather put up with something we don’t like than face the unfamiliar.

Neuroscience teaches that change upsets our natural sense of order and uncertainty registers in our brain like an error that needs to be corrected. So, we’d rather avoid that if we can.

The way we respond to change is also influenced by what I call the 3 P’s:

Past experience

As a leader of Change you need to take all these things into account.

Because if you Fail to plan for the impact of Change on People you plan to fail.

Four Stages of Change

But you do need a plan. A roadmap if you like.

It’s called the Four Stages of Change. I’ll illustrate with a short story.

The CEO of a major Bank had a grand vision for expansion. But he was frustrated by the slow uptake for this change.

His Leadership Team explained to him “Your Vision for the future is great but it is like you are on a hill and our people are still down in the valley, in today’s reality. They can’t see things as clearly as you.”

Before people will commit you need to lead them through the Four stages of Change.

Stage 1 is Awareness. And you need to give people as much information as possible about what is happening and why. But even then, they still may be in denial.

At Stage 2 is about building understanding and lowering resistance. You need to listen and answer people’s questions openly and honestly.

Stage 3 is the real turning point. Where acceptance starts to build. And you should involve people through training and education to build their confidence and buy-in.

Finally, stage 4 is where the changes become real, and people own the new way of working. By giving feedback and recognition you can help sustain their commitment.

Successful change takes time. Skipping steps will only create the illusion of speed.

Think of it like changing gears in a car. If you try and start in 3rd or try to skip a gear it is likely you will stall.

Here are three key things I have learned about Influence and Change:

Change is a journey.
Without change there is no progress. But not all change is good (for everyone)
As a leader you can influence positive change. But don’t underestimate the impact of change on your people.

So, remember to “be the change you wish to see in others”.

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