Have you ever recommended a change you felt was VERY important and valuable, but got rejected? Or, recommended a change that could dramatically improve your business or drastically improve the lives of others and people didn’t listen? So why did they not listen to you or implement the change? Did they not like you? Was your idea weird and too far out there for people to accept?
People Don’t Understand Change
In most cases it probably wasn’t a personality conflict, personal dislikes, or even that the idea was too far out. They probably declined your change request with no idea of the significant positive difference it would make.
They probably didn’t understand change or what change meant. When it came down to it, they probably didn’t want the change because they lacked understanding.
Leaders often try to implement change without helping people understand what the change means. They don’t fully explain it enough for people to understand the change and accept it.
When people are asked to change without understanding, they often fight the change. They fear the change will hurt them, their standing with the company, or cause some other negative effect in their lives.
In addition, people begin wondering why what they have done for so many years is no longer effective. They question their previous knowledge and begin feeling like they have been left in the dark.
How to Help People Understand Change
So what can you do to receive acceptance next time you have a great change idea? How can you change people’s outlook and misunderstanding about change? Be transparent and use specific facts to explain why the change is necessary, how it will be implemented, what benefits it will provide, and what effect the change will have on others. Whatever you do, don’t be vague and deceptive when explaining the change. This will create distrust and frustration amongst people.
For example, when asked about why a change is happening you could easily say, “Well, I propose this change because it is a GREAT idea and I want it done this way.” This approach will probably not receive much support even when people have a great trust in you.
You could say, however, “I propose implementing this change because our competitor just improved their process to the XYZ new process. They now ship twice as much inventory as us. They’ve leveraged their new process so they can keep the same man power while doubling their production. Since they made this change, our margins have decreased and we are losing customers. If we don’t make the proposed change, we will continue to give up margins and lose our edge.” From there, you could go into more detail on what factors you considered in making your choice and why the process you chose will be effective and take you out of you current place.
The first explanation is vague. It does not provide enough detail for people to make a good judgment on what they should do. It also leaves people with many questions. Rather than ask all the additional questions to understand the change, people just reject the proposal.
The second example, on the other hand, is more transparent and gives the full picture. It helps people understand the importance of change and what the change involves. It also lets people know what will happen if the change is not accepted.
When people understand why a change is needed and how it will be implemented, they are much more likely to accept and move forward on it. That doesn’t guarantee they will like the change, but they will at least understand it.
What challenges have you seen when people didn’t understand change? What steps have you taken to help people understand change? How have people received your requested for change? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!