Astrology fans who follow the stars were not amused at the articles this week noting that the Zodiac charts were off by a month (see the follow up story to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s original piece). Much drama ensued as believers used the internet to express their anger at changes to their star-driven horoscopes.
Believers have a great deal invested in the Zodiac. The guidance their daily horoscope offers provides them comfort. Couples often have their signs analyzed to learn how compatible their chosen mate is to them. And exactly what are Zodiac-sign-tattooed believers to do if they now fall under the new 13th sign, that of Ophiuchus?
The good news for Westerners is that their Zodiac chart has actually NOT changed. CNN states in their article that “astrology experts say the shift in zodiac signs does not apply to most Westerners, who follow the tropical zodiac, which is fixed to the seasons. The Star-Tribune article referred to the sidereal zodiac, which is fixed to constellations and is followed more in the East.”
Organizational leaders can learn a great deal from this episode. These reactions to the shifting Zodiac are exactly how staff react when a change is announced in their organizations!
Common Reactions to Change
Senior leaders typically expect to see this sequence: 1) announce the change, and everyone will 2) implement the change. Change NEVER works out that way.
People go through predictable stages of reactions to change. Blanchard’s research-based program, Leading People Through Change, provides insights into their concerns. These stages are individual (individual players will go through each stage at different speeds) and sequential – players will not move to the next stage of concern until their needs have been met at the previous stage. We examine the first three phases in this post.
- The first phase is information concerns – people want to know what exactly the change is, why is it needed, how much change at how fast a pace, etc. Once information concerns have been addressed, players will move to . . .
- The second phase: personal concerns – people want to know how the change will play out for them, what’s in it for them, what will I give up, what will I gain over time, etc. When personal concerns have been addressed – and these concerns can widely vary across a workforce – players will move to . . .
- The third phase: implementation concerns – people are able to focus on how the change will be put into action, what the plan is, how will people be held accountable, what resources will be available, etc.
Savvy change leaders know that these initial stages of concern must be thoroughly addressed for the desired change to take hold.
How to Help Staff Embrace Change
There are four basic ordered steps in a change leader’s action plan to help staff embrace a needed change:
- Educate – Describe the change fully – or as fully as you can at this stage. Share the business case for the change – what in the business environment is driving this change? What are the costs – time, dollars, customers, opportunity – of not making this change?
- Involve – Offer numerous opportunities for staff to examine the change, to suggest how to make the change more efficient, etc. Build buy-in with these conversations.
- Embed – Create systemic support for the new behaviors; the change will not endure without systems refinements. With staff involvement, modify delivery systems, performance systems, etc.
- Refine – Over time, continue staff involvement to tweak the change (and supporting systems) to enhance the benefits of the new approach(es).
What is your experience with staff embracing or resisting change? Join in the conversation!