Changes threatened to be unsuccessful.

Dear SJ,

I am the CEO of a medium-sized organization. A few months ago I chose a new strategy and started implementing it. Some teams are doing very well. Other teams don't. Specifically, they continue to behave the old way and pretend nothing has changed. I'm tired of people nodding yes - which gives me hope - yet ignoring our new procedures.

What to do? I feel like a square wheel.

Dear CEO who feels like a square wheel,

Change, a constant factor through our lives, but in a work environment it’s at the top of the list of unpopularities. It is said that 70% of all change projects are rolled back. Perhaps that's why change management results in more than 2 billion hits in Google: a lot of attention for methodologies, and – my impression - too little attention for the human side of it. Change happens individually while everyone is facing the same order of concerns. If these concerns cannot be identified nor addressed, implementation of change may slow or stop.

We have an approach for each of the concerns that I would like to explain further on. But first I unveil how you can determine where each person is in their change process, based on the questions they ask:

1. Looking for information: what is the change and why is it necessary?

2. Personal questions: How will it determine my job? What am I going to win and lose?

3. Implementation questions: How will I get the time and knowledge for this? Who is my point of contact in case of questions? Will new systems be implemented?

If you have properly approached these first 3 phases, change will be accepted, and people long to be part of the implementation.

4. Impact questions: is the implementation progressing? Do we see what we expect? Is it worth it?

5. Questions about further refinement: now that we have gone through the change, how can we further optimize? What can work even better?

It sounds like some team members are still in the first few stages. They started nodding yes because you either stopped listening or never listened to them. And that is not a surprise. You yourself spent months on the new strategy and its preparation. You want to switch quickly and there is a chance that insufficient attention was paid to what is going on in your teams’ head. The keyword is to listen, listen, listen!

Show that you care about them and meet them where they are in the process.

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