Change Is Good: A is for Ask

Change Is Good is a blog series in which Roger Kastner highlights the simplicity in the art of Organizational Change Management and strives to encourage readers to maximize Pareto’s Law when navigating through the complexity of human behavior.

Slalom Consulting Roger Kastner

A Consultant Manager with Slalom Consulting, Roger works with clients and other consultants in the delivery of Organizational Effectiveness and Project Leadership services and helps practitioners achieve greater success than previously possible.

Clients sometimes share with me that if only they could tell their people the right thing, they would be able to get them to adopt that new policy, use a new system, or exhibit new behaviors.

They are convinced the challenge of gaining adoption is in determining what the right thing to say to their people is. That by telling people those magic words, they will persuade the masses and create followership. And thus the question they ask me is “How do I find the right words to tell my people that will result in adoption of change?”

The problem is most people don’t like to be told what to do, especially people who are closer to the work than the boss. It’s like telling an 8 year old to stop whatever fun they are having and go to bed; you are inviting resistance.

Asking an 8-year old

Of course, if you were to ask an 8-year old at 7:45pm what time they should go to bed, the answer is not likely to be 8pm.

However, in my experience, if at 3pm you told the average 8-year old that they needed 10-12 hours of sleep each night to help them grow and do their best at school and play, and then you asked them what time they should go to bed, you would likely receive a reasonable answer.

By sharing with them the end goal and engaging them in the process of determining a bedtime, they do a great job at picking a reasonable bedtime. Of course that doesn’t prevent the occasional tantrum, but they are only children, and resistance can sometimes be expected. Gallup research shows that 17% of any organization will always resist change.

Now, if you were to “engage” the 8-year old at 7:45pm, instead of 3pm, and asked them what time they should go to bed, you would likely receive a lot of resistance to agreeing to what you would consider a reasonable bedtime. Yet, isn’t that similar to what we do when we are rolling out a new process to an adult population without any prior engagement? (I believe it was Gallup research which also showed that 99.9% of children will resist bedtime if not properly engaged in the process.)

“What should I ask my people to get them to adopt change?”

Leaders should always set direction and provide a vision for what should be achieved. People expect that and want it. However, just like the 8-year old’s bedtime, they are not only much more likely to be compliant with how those goals are achieved, but they are more likely to be champions for the change if they are engaged early in the process for how those objectives are achieved.

All you have to do is ask. It’s that simple.

B is for Behavior

About Roger Kastner
As a member of the Organizational Effectiveness practice at Slalom Consulting, I'm excited to share my perspectives and experiences with Change and Project Management to help clients and practitioners achieve their goals and objectives.

8 Responses to Change Is Good: A is for Ask

  1. Abdallah El-Okda says:

    That was simple, yet brilliant.

  2. Patrick Hildebrand says:

    Roger, very much looking forward to this new topic series. Managing change is a big part of my job and is pretty much continuous. As Jack Welch said; ‘If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.’

    • Roger Kastner says:

      Patrick, thank you for the comment and thanks for the Jack Welch quote, had not come across that one before. I don’t think Change Management is about helping teams move from one status quo to another, since change seems to the be the new “constant.” Leaders who can lead people through change will be successful. Thanks for reading!

  3. Pingback: Change Is Good—Introduction « The Slalom Blog

  4. Hi I really need yr help on how to convince peoples as I have a great ambition to success in my career at MLM for a world leading wellness products but when peoples ask for the products details and then I will explain on the product as what they need to know example benefits,price and how to start the bisness then after that no response it just silence when I call or message no respond at all.Just need to ask why it happen like this as I did try my level best to explain all their needs.I do always follow what my coach taught me at all Bisness Presentation it just they mention keep on looking for a new peoples if peoples does not show any respond & interested just leave it but I’m a person who always will try and try never give up is my policy so couls U please teach me one magic words that peoples will always love and will follow me to join and work on together to expand this business through Global.Need your kind assistance to help me out as I need to build and change my life style for my lovely children as I’m a bread winner for my family here ..I’m a single Mum who have a big vission and mission to achieve goal in life.Regards.. From Kamisah

    • Roger Kastner says:

      Thanks for your comment. Without more details it is hard to diagnose exactly what the issues are, however, if you are receiving zero reactions after you deliver your proposal pitch, it could be that there is a disconnect between you are you “selling” and what they are “needing.”

      People buy solutions to their problems, and if you do not understand their problem, you will not be turning a prospect into a buyer.

      In order to understand your customer’s problem, and to demonstrate you care and understand their problem, you have to ask questions and continue to ask questions in order to validate that you have the right solution. Then and only then you can confidently help your customer connect the dots between their problem and your solution.

      From a change management perspective, asking questions is key to:
      — understanding the problem, to identifying the impact of the change,
      — helping the individual connect the dots between the vision for the change and what the change means for individual,
      — understanding how the individual feels about the change, and
      — identifying resistance to the change

      Once the change agent has helped leaders ask the right questions and collect the answers, then the leader is better able to engage the individuals in creating the context for change and executing on the right plan, turning change “prospects” into “buyers.”

      Asking questions will help you understand your buyer’s problems, quantify the value of the solution, and inform how you will connect the dots between their problem and your solution. Good luck, it’s clear you have the passion, now it’s time to focus that passion on your customer’s needs by asking most questions.

      Good luck,

  5. Pingback: Change is Good: G is for the Golden Rule « The Slalom Blog

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