• Change Levers vs Change Barriers

    Change Levers vs Change Barriers

    Posted 03/10/2011 By in CHANGE MANAGEMENT With | No Comments

    What do you focus on most?  The levers that drive change forwards in your organisation, or the barriers that impede it’s progress?

    Good strategies do both but in my experience we each tend to favour one over the other.

    Change management is mostly about psychology.  Getting people (individuals) to commit to and engage with, a new way of being, or doing something.  The problem is that although we all share the same elements of psychology (common human needs for example) we address or apply them in very individual ways.  If we approach the individuals as a group in our Change Programs, we lose some of the nuance of our message – we win some over, confuse some, and lose some.  “For the good of the group” is how much change is expressed, but seeing as a group is made up of individuals then oughtn’t we focus on the individual, for the good of the group?  Ok, some of you may already be throwing your hands up and wondering “how on earth can I be expected to meet everyone’s needs?”  Obviously there needs to be some measure of balance.  One person’s unrealistic (according to whom) demands may threaten to derail, but go deeper.  What is driving that behaviour?  Where are they at on the transition?  What would you like/need if you were in the same position?

    A friend of mine once showed me a formula for change that really stuck.  In essence it was something along the lines of… “change happens when the fear, pain or effort of making the change is outweighed by the fear, pain or effort of not making the change.”  So if its easier (more comfortable) to remain unchanged than it is to make the shift (culture, systems, processes, health, whatever) then we’re not likely to move.  The trick is to make the future state more desireable than the current state and the current state less comfortable than the effort required to get to the future state.  This is levers and barriers in action.  Levers are the benefits we may realise and the ‘prod’ we get from being uncomfortable staying still.  Barriers are the effort required to change, the uncertainty of what the change actually means, the loss individuals’ experience in moving on from the past, and many others.  If you’re managing change a focus on the individual (in order to benefit the group/organisation) will serve you well.  Employees consistently rate “having an input” and “being in on things” as high drivers of their engagement at work.  By shifting your approach to an individual, you are helping them to express those needs in a way that works for them and in doing so, you’re more likely to get some change traction.

    I know this is easier to write about than to actually do but the successful change projects I’ve been involved in have all focused (to some degree) on employee engagement.  That by it’s nature is individual with collective benefits.  As synergy grows with your people, so too will the inertia of your change increase.  Your problem then may shift to “how on earth do I steer this thing?”

    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    HTML tags are not allowed.

    Why ask?

    Copyright Blaze Unlimited Pty Ltd, 2007. All rights reserved.