by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor
If the need for change is so obvious to you why isn’t to the rest of the people? In other words, why is change so hard?
According to Change Management: The 5 C’s of Change Response. there are five core reactions people have to change – whether big or small, personal or professional, required or optional. To effectively advocate and implement change, effective leaders need to identify how each stakeholder will react to the change and then you can address their concerns and quickly get them on board the change train.
The 10-20-40-20-10 rule
The first group is the champions – perhaps 10 percent of the total – who are those who are prepared to stick their necks out, run with an idea, and own what happens. After announcing the change, they’ll right up front wanting to move forward.
But don’t get over-confident. Their enthusiasm could give you a false impression of how everyone else feels. And champions won’t question you closely on the merits of your proposal. Also their zeal may be a turn off, rather than a turn-on, for some potential supporters.
Identify your champions and give them a specific task to channel their interest and support. Be careful not to give them free rein or they may go off on their tangent different than yours.
Who are your champions? How can you use their interest and support right now to start moving the change in the direction that you want?
They are generally 20 percent of the total who may not immediately respond positively to your proposal for change. Rather, they look around to see who’s on board. They want to discuss your idea with others before forming a judgment. They’ll generally look to a key opinion maker or “trigger” person for guidance.
The great advantage of chasers is they give you a more accurate view of how your proposal is flying with others. When they join, you’re making progress. Once committed, they’ll stay. The potential difficulty is the key person they look to may not be totally on board the change.
Be aware of the key trigger person(s) or group(s) that people look to for guidance. Will they give a thumbs up or thumbs down? Make sure they are in the communication loop right from the start.
Who are the chasers and who will they looking to for the go ahead? How sure are you that these opinion makers are on board?
At 40 percent of the total, they are the biggest single group. They listen quietly to the proposed change and probably don’t ask questions. But don’t confuse their silence with negativity. Converts simply want solid evidence in favor of the change in order to sign up. They’ll also need reassurance about what impact the changes will have on them.
Converts have two advantages. Bringing them on board influences the change dynamic for a sizable majority of people. Once they’re convinced, you have momentum. The main disadvantage is that they may take so long to come around that your initiative stalls or side-tracked.
Identify your converts and what might be their concerns even before launching the change process. That way you’ll be able to address them early on and not wait until you get indifference or resistance.
What concerns will they have and can you answer them convincingly? What will be a winner for them? And what would possibly be a loser for them?
There are some really demanding people in the room. This 15-20 percent of the total will ask difficult questions initially and then … continue to do so. Their approach is to confront because they have a strong stake in the outcome.
However, if you can convince challengers that the change will be a good thing, it’s a certain guarantee of success. If you don’t win them over, they will continue to cause problems. The disadvantage is they can continue asking questions beyond usefulness and distract you form going forward.
Handle challengers’ queries fairly, however irritated you feel. Remember, others are watching. Be firm with them about what’s on and off the agenda. Provide ground rules and stick to them.
What questions are they bringing up that others could be thinking but not asking? How can you answer them to indirectly reassure others?
The most problematic are the last 5-10 percent of the total who will not be convinced.. They cause dissent and are essentially immovable. Keep in mind that changephobics don’t oppose because they’re bad people, but because they feel you’re destroying something they hold dear.
If you’re seen dealing with them honestly and fairly, you’ll gain brownie points from others for being evenhanded. However, the disadvantages are legion: By doing their best to oppose your initiative, they can slow down or even derail change.
The harsh reality is that you have to deal with changephobics as quickly and effectively as you can, whether it’s to another department or out of the organization.
How much of your time and energy do you want to expend to convince them? Should you be focusing on the other 4C’s?
Smart Moves Tip:
Remember, people are being moved from their comfort zone to a new place. While some may zealously embrace the change, most get very uncomfortable when things start to feel or be different. Therefore, people must understand the reason for change; the process of change; and their role in change. If not, anxiety mounts, trust declines and rumors fly. The next thing you see is the change going off track and heading for a crash. Therefore it’s important to understand why change is so hard and how to make it easier.