3 Steps to Real Change

In my new role at Chick-fil-A, someone asked me if my team was going to help the organization with change management? I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that question. We'll certainly help the organization plan for the future and this will undoubtedly require change; but, I don't want to mislead anyone - I don't think change management can be outsourced. Creating change is at the heart of every leader's role.

So, if every leader’s job description includes change management, how do we do it well? There are three steps to real change.
1. Motivation – People have to see the reason for change. The catalyst can be intrinsic or extrinsic. In either case, the motivation for change will ultimately flow from one of three sources…

Vision – A preferred picture of the future.

Pain – A current reality that is causing discomfort (physical, emotional, financial or relational.)

Fear of future consequences – A belief that failure to change will have negative consequences at some point down the road. (e.g., I’m told that many heart attack survivors stop smoking.)

Any of these three can create the motivation, but as most leaders have discovered, motivation alone is rarely sufficient to create real change.
2. Information – This is often the “How to” of the change. If you explain to someone that if they’ll reduce cost by 10% they’ll get a bonus, they may well be motivated, but unless they have the information on how to reduce costs, all that motivation will quickly turn to anxiety and frustration.
3. Assistance – Here’s the part where many leaders and organizations drop the ball. With their people sufficiently motivated and informed, leaders assume their work is done. The truth is that real change rarely occurs without assistance of some sort. It can be in the form of tracking systems, advanced training, refresher training, encouragement from their supervisor, small group support, recognition, accountability partners, mentors to answer questions along the way, or even testimonials from others who’ve successfully made the change. The list is infinite. The leader simply needs to answer the question, “How can I help people make this change?”
Change is hard - not because the process is hard, but the discipline, time, energy and resources required can be daunting. That’s why every leader needs to see change management as an integral part of his or her role. We can never forget that progress is always preceded by change.[GLS_Shield]

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Ricky Escobar

11 years ago

I totally agree Mark. We use a formula here at WinShape Wilderness that coincides with your 3 steps of change management. Since we deliver information via experiential learning our formula is: Transformation (change) = A Motivated Person with an Attitude to Learn (Motivation) + A Purposeful Experience that Challenges and integrates Multiple Learning Styles (Information) + A Revelation of Learning prompted by Reflection + Action, Self Initiated application of learned skills, brought about by follow up, coaching, and accountability (Assistance).
To often there is an assumption that transformation, or change, is accomplished with the first two steps, but I submit that the often dismissed, diminished, or neglected last two steps is what cultivates the real change, and the first two are just "catalysts." Subsequently the last two steps are the least flashy, potentially the most cost consuming and the most time demanding parts of the equation. Part of the problem I see is the culture of wanting change NOW, in 3 hours, with marked output. How can we counter this culture? How can we maximize effectiveness, while still upholding quality and maximum acceptance?

Michael Nichols

11 years ago

Great post Mark! Change is at the core of leadership - after all, what are we leading people to do? To be? Consequently, I believe that all change requires leadership.
I particularly like your description of motivation. I believe Daniel Harkavy wrote: People seek help (or change) when they've had enough, heard enough, or hurt enough.
Great reminders!

My great Wordpress blog | Just another WordPress site | Today’s Challenge: Leading Change

9 years ago

[…] change is a process. I wrote about it in a post entitled 3 Steps to Real Change. Today, let’s take a deeper look at the key levers leaders have at our disposal to instigate […]


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