Creating Impact: Making It Stick

Continuing our ongoing conversation about leading change ...

Once you have established some sense of shared meaning (see earlier post here), and then clarified the future you want to create (earlier post here), the final phase in the cycle can be the most challenging: how do you get the new thing to stick?

What do you need to do, right now, to make the change that is required?

Is that enough?

People are notoriously fickle creatures.  Despite all their good intentions, breaking comfortable habits is a very hard thing for them to do.  

This is only compounded by the fact that you can’t MAKE anyone do anything.  (Granted, you can threaten people into submission.  However, I think we can all agree that weak compliance like that is no way to run a railroad.)  People have to want to change.  

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can encourage this wanting.  

The first is to hold conversations of accountability.  The questions above are a start to that.  They get individuals and the team to make (in public) the tough promises that are needed to start them moving toward the future you have agreed is the desirable one.

The second way is to create the conditions for success.  Make it possible for your people to make different choices, and provide rewards when they make choices that fit with the new situation.

What kind of rewards?  It depends on the circumstances and on your people.  The biggest, most important part of managing anyone -- employees, team mates, your kids, the dog -- is knowing what makes them tick.  How do you figure that out?  Pay attention to them.  Ask them about it.

What will help you sustain the change?

How will you assess your progress?

Remember, this is a cyclical process.  As you reach the end of this stage, it is time to notice what you have created by asking: “What (or where) is the new tension?” 

And the whole process begins again.