Are your people ready to change?

If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change.  If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.  ~  John A. Simone, Sr.  

At a time when most businesses are seeking ways to emerge from the effects of the recession, and get themselves back on the road to economic growth, one inevitable question their leaders will all face will be, “What things are going to have to change around here to start us moving again?”  

  • Will the strategy and tactics they have been deploying during the crunch be the same ones they need to drive growth?  
  • How do they shift mindsets on their management teams from ‘cost avoidance’ to ‘growth and profit’? 
  • Do they need different types of people in their company to take them in a different direction?
  • Will their own leadership style need to be different as they move forward?
  • Are they even the right leader to take the company forward and be successful?

Some of these questions can be extremely daunting, and will challenge even the most competent leaders. However, much will depend on how the workforce has been led during the period of recession. 

Have people been continuously aware that this day was coming, or will it come as a surprise to them  that they are now expected to do things differently, think differently, perhaps adopt new practices.  Remember, even unpleasant circumstances become comfortable after a while, and people will resist moving away from the ‘way things are’ even if they are promised a better future.polar-bear-ice

It’s not enough to simply promise things will get better and hope they will change.  One major reason for this, we now know, is because of the way our brains are organised. Regular patterns of thinking and behaviour become ‘wired’ at the neural level. It is certainly not a trivial matter of expecting people to one day waken up and operate as if they had a different wiring pattern. Not even after the most rousing and stirring ‘all-hands’ kick-off event !!  Our brains need to have new connections created (and old connections disused and atrophied) over a period of time in order for new patterns of thinking and behaviour to take root. New visions, positive futures, different expectations, alternate rewards, all help generate these new connections, and ultimately, different behaviours.

That’s why the best leaders encourage people to embrace continual change. They achieve this by handing responsibility over to people to identify where improvements can be made, to innovate and create in their everyday work, to collaborate and pool the best ideas, and to encourage the provision of feedback to each other, up, down and across the organisation. They also align their reward structures to reflect this culture, by encouraging these behaviours. They role model these behaviours, and ensure that all management layers do so too.

In other words, by encouraging people to adopt a constant state of readiness for change, you can avoid the massive effort (and failure) that is typically associated with the periodic change efforts attempted in so many organisations.

So, what are some of the things that leaders can be doing to create a ‘change ready’ organisation (as opposed to simply driving change into an organisation when it is needed)?

  • Ensure that everyone is aware of the direction the company is heading – even if you may at the present time be ‘off course’
  • Communicate the story as often as you can – don’t wait till you have all the answers (gaps will be filled by rumour in any case and be more harmful)
  • Train people in the art of providing and receiving feedback and in the benefits that a ‘feedback’ culture provides to them – openness, learning, development, growth, and personal achievement
  • Create an innovation ‘hub’ on the ‘shop-floor’. Do not make ideas generation an elite sport. You will not only miss valuable opportunities, you will disenfranchise your best asset, the intellectual capital of your people.
  • Make very visible the rewarding (and celebrating) of desired behaviours such as ideas generation and collaboration.

By doing these things, you will start to get across the message that change is not to be feared, that it is inevitable, a constant, and can even be fun and exciting.


If you feel that you (or members of your team) would benefit from exploring ways to make substantial improvements to personal and collective effectiveness and productivity, please do get in touch. Tailored learning programmes are available that have delivered proven benefits, whether your current focus is on:

  • a need to engage your workforce in a positive and compelling way through a transformation
  • how to ensure you get the best out of your investment in talent 
  • ensuring your senior teams, team leaders & middle managers are equipped to handle the conversations that are needed to ensure your organisation is operating as effectively and productively as it could be. 

Simply submit your contact details on the Contact Us page and I will be delighted to get in touch with you for an informal initial chat.


1 thought on “Are your people ready to change?

  1. Pingback: Take a look in the mirrors – and make your change programmes more effective |

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