As change agents, we find ourselves regularly challenged to get the buy-in and follow-through we need. We often start with a great premise and desired outcome, but few tools to enlist the necessary buy-in.
Two things must happen before change will occur:
- the people in a system must recognize, manage, and buy-in to all the elements of the suggested change,
- the system must comprehend that a solution will maintain the integrity of the whole.
Unfortunately, we’ve never been taught how to help manage the behind-the-scenes – and often unconscious – issues necessary to create and maintain systemic change. We’ve operated on the assumption that with a rational initiative and good communication folks will know how and why to adopt the change – and if they don’t, we handle their resistance.
I suggest there is a more effective way to be successful: become a GPS system and lead the change from the inside out.
Be the GPS System, Not the Consultant
During change initiatives, we often don’t manage the unconscious issues that underlie the status quo and will shift during change. People will take no action – or will resist any request for change – until they address these in a way that maintains internal congruence. But because they are often hidden, we tend to ignore them until it’s too late.
Before designing a change initiative, we need to:
- understand the details, associations, and historic import of the internal systems issues that created the problem that will be changed,
- figure out how it has been maintained and held in place daily,
- recognize the new rules, roles, and relationships that will emerge post-change,
- help folks manage the differential in their beliefs between who they are now and who they will be, to help them accept change on a personal level first.
When we attempt to use negotiation skills or OD skills at the wrong time in the change cycle – and almost all change agents attempt to get folks to agree to change well before they have figured out their personal routes through their change issues – we are delaying the change and opening up the possibilities for rejection and sabotage.
Current strategic change models only manage the ‘push/information’ half of the change process. Let’s add a ‘pull/buy-in’ skill set.
To ensure buy-in to change, become a neutral GPS system to navigate followers through the old and new systems issues that will shift, and help them create their own new rules, roles, and relationship patterns.
Help them develop the sort of environment that will both match the change and manage the personal, idiosyncratic elements that have made the folks successful in their pre-change situation.
As part of your new GPS skill set, become a decision facilitator and lead change where it begins: within the system that created the need for change to begin with, and through the people who will be leading the charge.
About the Author
Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and the new book Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it. She lives in Austin, Texas.