1. Stop talking and listen. No more convincing people of anything. Listen to their fears, understand their motivations, ask them questions. You may be surprised by what you hear. What do they know that you don’t? Have they seen this movie before (and it didn’t work when the last guy tried this)? Do you understand the environment? What do they think needs to get done for this change to be successful?
2. Remove the secrecy. I know for me, I don’t like the unknown. I like to know, to understand, and not necessarily have control, but I like to understand what is going on around me. There are many people like that…they don’t like the unknown. Ask them what they want to know. The safety for them comes in the knowing, so tell them. Let them ask questions and answer them. Remove the cloak and dagger style of management from your organization – provide transparency.
3. Bring them with you. For some, they just want to be a part of it. They are OK with the world changing, as long as they can feel included in the process. So, include them! If you are the boss, let them sit in on your strategy meetings. Let them take notes, whatever it takes, just let them be there to see how the magic is happening and understand more about the process that is driving the decisions. If you are the lucky project/change leader, remember that you are there to facilitate the change through people. Project management is getting things done through others. You need them. Bring them with you through the project by including them in the process. You are NOT the best person to put together the plan. The team you build around you and leverage are the best people to put together the plan if you want them to own it and implement it.
4. Don’t assume they get it. When we understand why something is important and see the value, we assume it’s obvious to everyone else. It’s not. You may have more information than they do (because you didn’t do #3 maybe), the value proposition might not be really clearly articulated yet, or it may just not be as important to them yet.
5. Make it matter. Unless you make it important to them, they probably won’t come along. They might tell you they are with you, but actions may suggest otherwise. How do you make it matter? Give them their WIIFM (what’s in it for me)! First, refer to #1.
Once you’ve done that, you will have a good idea of what matters to them and can find a way to connect the change you are creating to something that benefits them.
Here’s an example: You are implementing a new system or process. When telling them that the new system will save the company money…you hear crickets. Instead, tell them that when that new system goes in, they will all be able to get back to 8 hour working days. Now, you have their attention! Make it personal to each of them. When talking to Susie, tell her she’s not going to have to miss any more of her son’s soccer games. Tell John he’s going to be able to make it to his cooking class. Whatever their personal WIIFM is, find it, know it, leverage it, and you will now have their support! After all, this is JUST work. As important as your project is to you, it’s just work and not as important as the many other things these folks have going on in their lives.
6. What about the naysayer? There’s one for every project. 🙂 I love those people! The ones that are telling you all of the things that are going wrong with your project! You know what I do with them? I hand them a whiteboard marker and put them in front of a whiteboard and let them tell me all of the things wrong with what we are doing. Then, I ask them what they would do to fix it. You know what happens? They start giving you solutions. Keep digging, keep engaging, keep working through it with them, ask more questions. You know what happens next? They start owning the solutions…they start becoming invested, they are now a part of the future of the change. You want to gain their investment? Implement one of their ideas, and then another. Go ahead, it won’t hurt you. Let them be a part of the solution.
I’ve given you some ways to rethink how you bring people with you through the change. Now, go Get. It. Done!