Many people who implement change wish that colleagues would just immediately go along with the program without much resistance. It would be nice and easy if you could just announce the change and have people automatically get on board and say, “Just tell me what I need to do!”
To think that everyone in the organization would instantly participate without hesitation is only a dream, of course. If change were that easy, they wouldn’t need you to lead it! Plus, the change and its outcomes are made better by understanding and working with the resistance that comes up. However, it does help to have people on your side from the start, who don’t need much convincing to help you out.
Most likely, there are reflexive followers in your organization, people who only need to hear about your project and they want to know how they can help. The following are three reasons people impulsively participate in change:
1. They connect with the change.
Occasionally, your change initiative will trigger someone’s curiosity or passion. The minute you say you are working on a [sustainability, innovation, leadership, Lean, you-name-it] initiative, they want to be involved. The topic is part of their expertise, or perhaps they would like it to be. They know the problem you are trying to solve, and they want to be part of the solution.
2. They have nothing better to do.
Have you ever gone into somebody’s workspace and they seem relieved that you interrupted? If you asked them to do anything at that moment besides what they were working on, they probably would. Some employees stuck in the daily grind are looking for something more meaningful, interesting or just different to be involved in. The opportunity to use their skills (or learn new ones) to help make a difference in the organization may be just what they have been waiting for to get them out of their rut. Extend an invitation, and they will likely show up.
3. They believe in you.
Some of your colleagues will get involved simply because it’s you. If you were not involved, they may not have considered it. There may be a variety of sources of this adulation. Some may view it as an opportunity to learn from you. Some see that you are headed toward great things and want to follow in your footsteps. Others may just know that if you are involved, it must be a good idea. Your friends will naturally want to work with you on a project that you are passionate about.
You may think that in order to have that kind of magnetism, you must be charismatic. When you are passionate about your project, your charisma appears. Far more important traits, however, are integrity and respect. If colleagues believe you are trustworthy and that your intentions are noble, they will honor you with their time and attention.
Locate people in your organization who connect with what you are doing, who crave something new, or who are your personal fans, and you will have found instant followers for your change initiative.