Don’t Force Change, Inspire It

January 22, 2013

It is widely recognised that the majority of people are uncomfortable with change.  Having said this, the world has changed considerably in everybody’s lifetimes, particularly in terms of technology.  As a species, human beings eventually adapt to their surroundings and the tools that become available to them.  We also like to make progress.

When you look at how new products have been introduced over the years, you can see how people have been inspired to buy them.  As a manager our job is to inspire team members to ‘buy’ into the new or different ways of working.

There are two essential factors we need to consider when getting this buy in; dissatisfaction with existing way of doing things and the benefits of finding a different way of working.  When the combination of these two factors is greater than the comfort of doing nothing then change is more likely to happen.

Creating Dissatisfaction

It’s amazing how many people continue to do something even though they are not really happy with it.  We have worked with many customers who are still using antiquated systems who know that there is often a much better one available.  Usually this is because we know how the old system works and we can use it without thinking.  We are also worried how much time it will take to learn to use the new one.  Like many things that we worry about the fear of doing it is much worse than actually having a go.

One way to ‘inspire’ this dissatisfaction is to create a culture of continuous improvement.  January can be a natural time to ‘kick start’ this process.  Start with those things that are easy to deal with.  This might include creating or updating simple templates for letters or forms that we use on a regular basis.  Even de-cluttering the office and having a clear desk policy can inspire people to look at the way they are working.  Tidying and cleaning our own homes before visitors arrive often creates a feeling of self-satisfaction and the associated boost to our motivation.  In this situation the catalyst was the visitors, in your situation there may have to be another catalyst – you!  You might even want to enlist the help of somebody who is naturally organised in your team to help you drive it forward.

Once this momentum is started, move onto other areas such as the bigger change you want to implement.  Ask the team how together you can make it happen.

Identifying The Benefits

The next step is to get your team to identify the benefits of a new better way of working.  Work with them on a brainstorming session about how it might work and also the possible barriers that might prevent it happening.  This is where your own inspirational behaviour is vital.  Creating excitement about the new system and how it might be easier to use or will save them time to spend on more interesting work or even give them greater job satisfaction are true motivators for change.

Take Into Account Different Ways Of Learning

As adults we are not as confident as young children when learning new things.  Taking the time to find out how people prefer to learn will reduce the fear.  As an example some people prefer to observe somebody doing it before trying it for themselves.  Others may prefer to work in pairs with another colleague and learn together.  One of our clients recently implemented a new warehouse system.  When they planned the training they instigated short sharp sessions getting used to the handheld bar code scanner and how it worked.  They then gradually added extra elements until they were ready to practice on a dummy system.  Even though they had older people in the team who were scared of new technology, they adapted very well and soon began to enjoy learning something new.  Whilst it was very chaotic in the first few weeks they were prepared to overcome the initial teething problems as they could appreciate the benefits once the system was in place.

So the message is this.  Show your enthusiasm and inspire others of the benefits of making changes.  We are all capable of making changes as we have all made changes in our lives in the past.  Human beings are adaptable and if we take the time to make it easier to take it all in, then we are more likely to be successful.

If you need someone to inspire you and help you make changes in your organisation, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help.

Many thanks

Scott Rumsey

Senior Management Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

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