Finally! – the “How” of Preparing Staff for Change

Prepping Your People for ChangeOn the surface, implementing change shouldn’t be that hard – you communicate the goal in a way that resonates with your team, prepare your people, institute new habits, and systematize those habits. Voila!

Yes, well, maybe not so obviously easy: 70%+ of changes fail to be implemented to some degree.

Which is a miserable experience for leaders and staff alike. Why do so many fail?


True Story

An organization conducted a nationwide search and hired a new President. This new President had an agenda – he wanted to start the organization growing in a new direction. But, that meant that some other projects had to get cut – or that was what the executive team decided. Only so much funding to go around, after all.

The new President ended up firing around 40 people and canceling entire projects to make more money available for his new work.

This caused mass confusion in the other projects, because the people and projects that were cut were not poor performers – it was the opposite – one of the projects won a nationwide award just days after the announcement of its impending suspension.

The prevailing hallway conversation consisted of “if they cut those high-performing people, am I next?” And “if they cut that award-winning project, is my project safe?”

Instead of making immediate progress on his new ideas (which were actually very good), he created resistance, resentment, and distrust immediately across the organization that was simply unnecessary.


The Biggest Challenge: Prepping Your People

As in all things, it’s the “people” bit that is the most complex.

And not because your staff are intentionally torpedoing your work, but because life has taught them that change is “hard.” For a lot of people, change is terrible. Awful. No good. The worst.

Some people don’t understand the change, and some people don’t “believe” in the change.

Understanding ChangeHow do you prepare people that may be already disinclined to embrace your latest and greatest idea?

Every person to whom I’ve spoken about managing change emphasizes this point – prepare your people. A lack of readiness spells certain disaster in a landscape already littered with traps.

Communication is key.

In a change environment, rife with trepidation and anxiety, some people want all the information: why we’re making the change, what are the data that support the change, why we decided to go in the direction we chose, what were the other options considered?

But then there are some people who will wither under such information. They become overwhelmed and cannot process anything. Neither of these is better or worse, they are just different.

For others, people will be inclined to support the rest of their team through the transition, and some will only change when they see others change around them. Some people don’t care what everyone else is doing – they are driven more by individual freedom or power.

So, it seems that if you want to be really great at managing big changes, you will have to be able to predict with some degree of certainty how your people will react to change.


The Solution: Develop Communication Strategy around Helix® Culture Types

Once you know who is on your team, you can identify ways to motivate them to accept the change, how to find opportunities in each, what and when to communicate – in sum, how to prepare them.

Helix® Culture Types (Helix Types) are grouped on a spectrum that includes people driven by those around them versus those driven by self-defined actions. There are people who thrive under more orderly conditions, and those that want more flexibility.

Of the population at large, 65% of people tend to be social creatures that focus on the well-being and actions of those around them.

The four Helix Types include:

        • Independents (18% of the population at large)
        • Fixers (22%)
        • Stabilizers (43%)
        • Organizers (17%)

It takes around 30% buy-in to get an organization moving in a new direction, so if you have a ‘typical’ cross-section of the population, then you have to figure out how to successfully communicate to a range of Helix Types.

You might be saying – Wait, what about Stabilizers? They are 43% of the population, so if you need 30%, just get them onboard and you’ve got the momentum you need. Unfortunately, Stabilizers are the most challenging to get marshaled into a new direction.

If you have a “typical” mix of Helix Types, then your best bet is to focus on the Fixers and Organizers. Likely, though, you are heavier on one Helix Type than another.

What Types do you have in your organization?


The Lesson

So, here’s the secret to having a ridiculously high success rate for your change initiatives:

Communicate the right things to the right people at the right time.

While prepping your people for change is a well understood need, the “how” used to be shrouded in mystery – but not anymore. Using Helix Types, you can determine the strategy to move your company in the right direction – which allows your transition to beat the odds and become a success story.

Dr. Rachel Headley of Rose Group International helping corporations through the tough changes and challenges of acquisitions and mergers, project management, and big change.AUTHOR

Dr. Rachel MK Headley
HELiX Culture Type: Fixer

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