Improve your change process and people will enjoy change
Change occurs all the time; how can you get better at it?
At Lean East, we coach teams on how to improve their processes. Most of the organizations we help have dedicated employees and smart leaders, yet they struggle to make changes. We often hear the excuse from individuals that they don’t like to change, yet some teams and a few organizations don’t have these same issues. Why do some teams and organizations struggle with change more than others?
We have observed several causes for these struggles and grouped them into several themes. In our next several blog posts we will describe several common issues and give examples of each. We will then conclude by showing how each of these struggles combine into a roadblock.
Why do some teams and organizations struggle with change more than others?
- Creating the burning platform
One of the first important aspects organizations must establish is the reason to change. Changing means the need to learn a new way, leading to fear of the unknown. Veteran employees who have become the experts on the process can suddenly lose their status as the “hero who saves the day” when the process fails. Our team has been part of hospital improvement projects where “super nurses” continually cover up problems with the process. Many “super nurses” enjoy saving the day; they may see it as a loss of status when the process improved.
People only change when the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of changing. Employees and managers alike need to clearly articulate the current reality, and make the case for why change must occur. The best leaders start with why to inspire change.
We spoke with a manager recently who had to lay off 14 of her 21 direct reports – with only twenty minutes of warning from her top leadership that this was happening. Her managers explained that her organization lost several customers and waited too long to communicate and respond to the problem. Why does this seem to happen so often?
People only change when the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of changing.
Change also means giving up something – the old way of doing things. A study by psychologists Dan Kahneman and Amos Tversky found people are conditioned to minimize loss. Our brains will naturally choose a solution with the least perceived change to minimize the risk of loss. One way to combat this is with information; sharing the current business realities both when times are good and when times are bad.
Our next post will discuss this key first step further.