The ability to inspire change is one of the hardest skills that showroom owners and managers need to master. It's not easy to get team members, suppliers and customers that you depend to change bad behavior. Team members who seem stuck in their ways present obstacles to achieving individual and corporate goals. Too often, efforts to initiate change end up backfiring. Relationships are strained. Performance is compromised. Walls are built to protect self-interest and to keep the familiar in place instead of venturing into the unknown.
The following are suggestions gleaned from a study of managers that displayed effective behaviors to facilitate change and published in a recent Harvard Business Review blog:
Inspiration is the most critical factor in changing behavior. To help inspire team members, determine what the individual is trying to achieve. Is it to save time, sell more, lower costs, improve efficiency, make life easier or enhance customer service? You can't change someone's approach if you don't know what they are trying to achieve. Once you understand the goal, look for ways to link the team member's goal with the behavior you want to achieve. The best change leaders attempt to create desire and minimize fear. Telling someone that they must change or face negative consequences hardly ever works. Whenever possible, explain the r desired change logically and rationally and obtain feedback from team members and discuss potential obstacles.
Inspiring leaders teach their team how to recognize and address issues before they become problematic. Identifying situations that are causing problems helps to develop change strategies that mitigate or eliminate them altogether. Most recurring issues are the result of broken processes.
Challenging the status quo is another key ingredient in changing attitudes, behaviors and mindsets. Nothing in your organization or processes should be considered sacred. Have an open mind and promote to your team that there's always a better way.
Making more effective decisions and changing behavior requires leaders to have universal perspectives, the data necessary to make the most informed decisions and an understanding of contrarian positions. Asking others for their take and advice sends the message of inclusion. Even if the bottom-line results in a decision that forces change, those resisting will be more likely to move if they know that their opinions were considered. Being inclusionary also builds trust, which is essential to make changes you want.
Change is fearful and takes courage to initiate and execute. It takes courage to leave a comfort zone and try something new. Be courageous and encourage your team to follow your lead.
If the change you want to achieve is not a top priority, it will almost certainly be destined to fail.
The research found that two traits or attitudes had little to effect on making change happen. One is being nice — nice people finish last in the change game. Simply smiling and making requests to upset an apple cart does not work. The other tactic that does not work is nagging — continually telling someone what to do and how to do it only services to irritate people instead of inspiring them to change.