Just because the change seems rational

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

There is so much about change that is rational. There is the change process itself, five steps that must happen in order i.e. you must successfully complete each step to move to the next one and ultimately succeed at change.

There is also the reasons for change i.e. vision, goals, compelling reasons etc. Of course the elements that support the change can be rational i.e. structure, rewards, decision-making, roles, tasks etc. The project plan is based on logic as is the communication plan and messaging.

So why does change fail? Why do people resist or seem disengaged when often (well maybe not always and not completely) there is a lot of thought that goes into the decsion and steps to change?

Well there are a number of reasons such as all of the items above could have some flaws in them, but, by and large, it's because employees/people are what they think, feel, and believe in. What does that mean?

It means, among other things, that what leaders believe to be rational, compelling, engaging, achievable, collaborative, etc. aren't always viewed the same way by employees. We all have different experiences, different backgrounds, different skill levels etc. which influences the way we think about change, the way we feel about change and what we believe about change.

I for example may think that I can handle any change, believe that change is possible and others want to help, and generally feel positive about change. If I put this together with all the 'rational' elements of change that I mentioned above, I might be hard pressed to imagine why anybody wouldn't jump on baord and take the journey with me. This would all influence how I communicate (i.e. from my perspective) to others about the change expected, it would influence some decisions in the rational aspects of change (how things are rewarded, the way decisions get made, the vision and goals, etc.).

This is where things can go badly wrong! We need to put ourseleves in the shoes of others. Consider how they may be influenced by the way they think, feel and what they believe. This needs to come through in the way we communicate and also the way we plan (compelling reasons have to be compelling to employess not just the company for example) and support change (feedback sessions to listen to concerns; Identify ways to support employees through training, coaching, 'safe practice', etc.)

Most change requires we alter our behaviour in some way (the way we do things, the way we develop, the way we succeed going forward, etc.). Our behaviour is driven by thoughts, feelings and beliefs - fail to acknowledge and spend quality time addressing it and change will fail.