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If You Want to Make Change Happen Don’t Call It “Change”

17 05 16 If you want to make change

Our Change Management Masterclass is running this Friday. It’s pretty full but there may be a spot or two left if you are interested – email here. One of the key messages I give in this program is the neurological impact of certain terminology during the change process.

For instance, talking about “change” causes an amygdala response in many people. The amygdala is the seat of the fight and flight response and turning it on causes emotions such as fear – the flight response, anger – the fight response or depression, when neither fight nor flight does the job.

For many people the word change has come to be associated with negative experiences which have affected them personally. These experiences might be as minor as inconvenience or as major as job loss.

This is why we often end up with “collateral damage” from change management undertakings. Absenteeism for instance can be a fight response – I don’t agree with this so I won’t come to work – or a flight response – I can’t cope so I’m not going to go to work today.

After all, if somebody says to you that you need to change, what does that imply about you? Of course it suggests that there is something wrong with you. Perhaps most insulting of all is “culture change”. Many people who are very proud of their organisations are offended by the suggestion that they need to change their culture, even when senior leaders are sure that this is what needs to be done.

I believe that you don’t have to do fight this particular battle. The secret of success in life is what you focus on. Why would you focus on the process – change? I suggest you focus on the destination that you are seeking to achieve, such as optimum customer service and then work with your staff to involve them in plans to get to this objective. In this way you can get lots of change without having to ever utter the ugly six letter word which causes so many problems. You will certainly get less collateral damage.

Of course it is a good idea also to recruit change ready employees. Click here to see how to measure the psychological characteristics which indicate a person’s readiness for change.

Andrew Marty
Managing Director
SACS

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