Two Ways to Deal with Change Snipers

In my Gain Leadership Support webinar, part of the Design & Influence Irresistible Change webinar series, one of the categories of leaders I encourage change agents to plan for are Snipers. Snipers are people who might blindside you if you’re not paying attention, by exerting their influence at an inopportune moment, destroying your project’s momentum. They’re hard to spot, but one question you can ask yourself is, “Who would I like to just stay out of the way?”

In today’s webinar, one of the attendees asked, how do you deal with snipers? I’ve seen two ways, and they’re complete opposites.

  1. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. As much as you’d like them to stay out of your way, keeping them involved can help you monitor where they stand so they don’t surprise you one day. As much as you might dread it, consider it part of the politics you have to play to keep the change moving ahead.
  2. Hide the project so it’s off their radar. Provide yourself some cover so they really do stay out of the way. Implementing change without someone knowing is easier to do if they are far removed from the project, and if you don’ t have to rely on them to get something done.

Know that some people like to throw a wrench in things. That’s how they exert their power in the organization. If that’s the case, everyone else will know to take their words with a grain of salt. Usually, you can keep moving ahead after they’ve gone on to the next project to mess with. But their concerns and ill will can poison the well and cause doubt in the rest of the people involved. Best to avoid this situation if you can, and if you can’t, reframe their intrusion as a way to spur the team forward.

Interview: Forget Work-Life Balance… It’s Role Integration

As the lines between our work and the rest of our lives blur, it seems more difficult to navigate and differentiate between the two. According to this month’s guest, Dr. Jane Goldner, author of You Can Have YOUR All, the key is not work-life balance, it’s role integration. Tune in to hear how to know if you or others have poor “work-life balance” and what the impact on the organization is, and how to go about implementing role integration concepts at work.

Listen to the show here (30 minutes):

Five Key Responsibilities of a Change Manager

When you find yourself responsible for managing a change project at work, you might wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. It quickly becomes clear that the task is not as simple as letting people know what they should do and then standing back to let it happen, especially when you don’t have authority among those who need to change. Influencing change across even a subset of an organization takes a deliberate and continual effort by the individual or team that is trying to make it happen.

structuresSo what are the activities a change manager must do to ultimately achieve the desired result for the organization? The following are five key responsibilities of a change manager:

Change Clarification

Whether the change was your idea or you’ve been delegated the task of implementing it, one of the first things to do is define the change. To determine what needs to be done to implement the change, first understand the current state of the organization and what the organization will look like when the project has been implemented. Figure out what is expected to change, and then dig deeper to determine the invisible elements, like attitudes and culture, that really need to change in order to sustain the end result.

Employee Engagement

The change initiative will ultimately be successful when employees change the way they work in a way that drives the results the organization is trying to achieve. As a change manager, you develop programs, tools, and systems to help drive that change. You find ways to communicate the sense of urgency, the inspiring vision, and the “What’s In It For Me,” to motivate action. When you invite people to participate in the effort and involve them in developing the change in their own area, you then let people feel like the change is theirs to implement. Share in the achievement, and let people take ownership by engaging them as early as possible in the change process.

Leadership Enablement

Converting managers in your organization into leaders of change is crucial to your project’s success. Unfortunately, not all managers understand how to adequately support change. To that end, clearly define the role that different managers must play in order to lead change within their areas of authority. Supply them with project-specific tools, training and feedback to enable them to lead. Provide the means for leaders to support each other in the change effort and to align themselves across the organization.

Resistance Mitigation

Even with the best of engagement practices, some people will seem to dig in their heels against change: some people won’t participate, some will do so grudgingly, and others will exhibit behaviors you didn’t expect. Once you uncover the underlying reasons for this resistance, most of them are valid, or at least understandable. As a change manager, your responsibility is to anticipate the potential sources of resistance so you can work to mitigate them in advance, and then to reduce resistance once it inevitably happens. Start by listening. Instead of blaming people for their resistant behavior, seek to understand their experience of the change. Rather than try to overcome resistance, help people deal with their reaction and work through it so they can make the transition in a constructive way. Be willing to change your approach if it’s creating too much disruption.

Project Management

Since change projects have lots of moving parts to coordinate, change managers are also project managers. Keep track of timelines, and monitor activities for dependencies and resource constraints. Measure progress against goals, set checkpoints, and take action to keep up momentum. Assign tasks and due dates, and ensure the accountability of those who commit to them. Plan meetings in advance and facilitate them so they successfully drive change forward. Manage all the nuts and bolts to keep your change project on track.

To effectively manage change, take on these key responsibilities and hold yourself accountable for doing them well. Doing so will help ensure that not only your change project succeeds, but that you become a successful change manager.

Looking for a resource to help you fulfill these responsibilities? Get practical tools, tips and templates in the Irresistible Change Guide Toolkit.

Why I Bailed on My STEM Career

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the US about building more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) capability in the workforce, and related conversations about how to increase the number of women in STEM programs, and how to keep women in those jobs once they have them.

And it makes me feel a little guilty. Because I had high potential for an engineering career, and I left it. As much as I love what I’m doing now, these conversations make me wonder – should I have stuck with it?  And what made me want to stop engineering in the first place?

office-suppliesToday I saw an article that said that women leave STEM careers because they don’t see room for advancement. Based on my experience, I think there may be something more to it. Let me tell you about my story…

Eighteen years ago, I graduated from Northwestern University with an industrial engineering degree. As someone who was obsessed with getting A’s at the time, I finished at the top of my class – Summa Cum Laude – from the School of Engineering. By all counts, I had the potential to be a great engineer.

My first job out of college was with a project team that was implementing an ERP system to avoid the Y2K fiasco. Ironically, once that change management project was over, I decided I wasn’t doing enough real engineering work, and so I joined another manufacturing company as an industrial engineer.

Industrial engineering’s primary focus is on process – increasing output, improving efficiency, ensuring quality, etc. One of my key measures of professional success was how much money the company saved as a result of my brilliant ideas. Except I learned pretty quickly that you can’t just redesign someone’s job or someone’s department and say, “Here, you should do this instead.”

What they don’t teach you in engineering school is that you need to influence people to adopt your ideas. And that showing them your detailed engineering calculations probably isn’t going to do it.

As I started building relationships and listening to others, I discovered that they had a lot of ideas too. I realized my engineering skills were better served helping other people justify their own ideas. Why should I be the only one who could come up with ideas? The people who were doing the jobs had a much better sense of the problems that needed solving, after all.

These two things together – learning that I needed more influence myself and that it was better to engage employees in improving their own jobs, led me to doing a lot of research and ultimately enrolling in an MBA program with a focus on leadership and change management. The more I learned about how organizations should work, the more I realized that some of the process and quality issues were a result of the culture.

As much as I enjoyed learning about and then applying engineering, I was being pulled in the direction of making things work at a deeper level. Luckily, I had a boss who was supportive of my organization change efforts – as long as I kept doing the engineering work too. I was able to start practicing what I was learning, from engaging employees in process improvement teams to facilitating the executive team on developing a strategy.

I certainly didn’t leave engineering over a lack of advancement opportunities.  Over the course of seven years, I was promoted from Industrial Engineer to Industrial Engineering Manager to Director of Industrial Engineering and Organizational Effectiveness. At the time, I was one of the first women promoted to Director level in the company.

Here I am, eight years after leaving engineering behind. Now I help people who need to influence others to adopt change.

Ultimately, I left my STEM career because I found something else that I loved more. I discovered it because I wasn’t taught how to influence change as an engineer, and so I had to learn how on my own. And I loved it because I was able to work on something bigger than a process, and because without working on the organization, the process changes wouldn’t matter anyway.

Do women leave STEM jobs because they don’t see opportunities to advance in their field? As a whole, probably. But if we taught the essential skill of influence in addition to engineering, perhaps they wouldn’t get so frustrated in their attempts to implement what they learned in school.

Interview: How to Make Waves at Work

This month, my guest is Patti Johnson, CEO of PeopleResults and author of Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life. She shares how to be a difference-maker who implements lasting change at work. Listen in to hear how to know when to start a wave, what the elements of a successful wave are, and what to do when your wave hits a wall.

Listen to the show here (30 minutes):

Fuel your project with the Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ webinar series

As a change agent at work, you have two primary roles:

  • To design the change initiative to go as smoothly as possible, and
  • To influence it along the way when it doesn’t.

When you do these two things well, your change seems irresistible.


Starting on January 28, join me for the Design & Influence Irresistible Change webinar series. You’ll learn a practical, straightforward change management methodology with examples, exercises, and tips to help you keep your change project moving forward.

These are the events you don’t want to miss if you’re trying to make a difference at work:

Winter/Spring 2015 Schedule

Date Topic
January 28
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern
Define Your Change
Clarify what really needs to change in order to achieve the desired results for your organization.
February 11
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern
Uncover and Reduce Resistance
Anticipate how people will react to change so you can reduce backlash, and learn how to handle resistance when it happens.
February 25
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern
Gain Leadership Support
Navigate the roles and relationships of change to get leaders to help you implement change.
March 11
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern
Design and Communicate Change
Create the structural elements that will drive change, and develop a plan to pinpoint communication.
March 25
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern
Sharpen Your Influence
Increase and leverage your own power to make a bigger impact at work.


By attending this webinar series, you will learn the steps and gain the tools to both design change in advance so it has the best chance of succeeding and influence change as you go so your initiative can be irresistible in the face of inevitable challenges along the way.

When you register for the whole series, you get:

  • 5 webinars packed with practical steps and advice
  • The Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook
  • Electronic templates you can use immediately to apply what you’ve learned on your project.

5 Webinars + Workbook + Templates


register(plus shipping for the workbook)

And don’t worry if you don’t know your availability that far in advance – all webinars will be recorded so you can still watch the ones you miss.

Need to get funding approved to attend this series? Download a brochure here.

If you have any questions, please contact me. Otherwise, I look forward to your participation in these events!

Balancing Power and Influence as a Leader During Change

Leaders who have authority in your organization play unique and vital roles during change. They are communicators, decision-makers, and motivators of change, all while being managers of the business. Leading a team through change is not always a straightforward task with right and wrong ways to do things. Instead there are many elements that must be balanced to bring about change. Two of those elements are power vs. influence.

rockcanyonFrom their position of authority, leaders can wield the lever of power to make people conform. All the ways a boss can say, “Because I said so,” either verbally or nonverbally, use force as a way to push people to change. In the extreme, this approach frustrates people and increases resistance. After all, no one wants to be bossed around.

On the other side of the scale are all the other ways to influence, for example, tapping into values, inviting people to participate, communicating the vision and “the why”, or understanding and helping people through their resistance and fears. Instead of pushing people to change, these leadership activities pull or facilitate people toward the future.

Unfortunately, the influence side of the scale is not always easy or clear. Each person has a unique personality and set of experiences that inform their reaction to change. The “right” way to influence change in everyone can be elusive. Leaders who become frustrated because they are unable to figure out how to help someone change are usually tempted to fall back on a “Just do it” power approach.

And that’s ok. To effectively implement change, we need leaders who can balance power and influence, push and pull. Too much emphasis on power, and we frustrate and diminish people. Too much effort on the influence side of the scale, and we might never get to where we want to go because leaders aren’t making it happen when the going gets tough.

During change, effective leaders balance power and influence. They leverage power effectively with an unwavering commitment to achieving the change, and by making it clear through their words, actions and decisions that the change will happen. Leaders leverage influence by enabling each individual to navigate the change in their own way, and by having the flexibility to understand and learn from resistance when it happens. Leaders must exercise both push and pull forces as needed to drive change forward.

Top Change Articles of 2014 at Enclaria

It’s hard to believe I’m wrapping up the seventh year of blogging about influencing change at work at Enclaria. As has become tradition, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of the most popular posts of the year. Thank you for reading and sharing!

Four Features to Look For in a Change Management Methodology

game-planDo you have trouble telling all the change management methodologies apart? Wonder how to tell which one you should use? Besides a solid, straightforward framework, there are other essential features to look for.

Five Ingredients of a Successful Internal Change Management Program

seasoningA number of organizations have crossed my path who are implementing an internal change management program. For this article, I identify what I’ve seen organizations get right when they embark on this endeavor.

It’s Time to Abolish the 70% Failure Rate Statistic

SurpriseJust strike it from your vocabulary. Please!


Can’t Get Support for Change? Just Hide It

SpyingA couple of stories highlight that implementing change anyway, even without support, can work on a small scale. When I shared this article in the Organizational Change Practitioners group on LinkedIn, it created a controversy about ethics.

Five Valid Reasons People are Mad at Your Change Initiative

catDo people seem to be mad about your project for no apparent reason? It’s not because “people resist change” (they don’t). Chances are they are experiencing something perfectly normal that you don’t see. Find some possible reasons for their frustration in this article.

How to Be Heard When No One is Listening

not listeningDo you find yourself lamenting that you could make a bigger difference at work, if only people would listen? In this article, learn five tips to open up dialogue when you’ve reached an impasse.

The Case for Courageous Change Agents

power boyThe role of a change agent is one that requires the ability and willingness to swim against the stream. Are you sabotaging your own project by not being willing to do what needs to be done?

20 Reasons Your Organization is Immune to Change

defenseFor this article, I delve into the concept of Organizational Resistance — the idea that over time, organizations develop ways to maintain the status quo and prevent change. Take a look at the list to see which ways seem familiar.

You Don’t Have to Call It Change Management to Do It

name tag closeWhether you name them or not, certain activities help implement change at work.


Four Ways Change is Introduced Into Organizations

ways change is introducedWhat does that initial drop look like that radiates to the rest of the organization?




The Change Agent’s Dilemma Radio Show – 2014 Episodes

BTR logo1This year on The Change Agent’s Dilemma radio show, fantastic guests joined the show to share their wisdom, experience and tips for how to influence change at work. Here’s the list of topics we discussed. Click through to listen to each episode, visit the radio show page, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

A big thanks to all my guests for sharing their time and insights. And thanks to you for listening!

Debunking the 70% Failure Rate of Change Initiatives

Guest:  Jennifer Frahm

LR_JenFrahm-3-1-300x197It’s probably the most-quoted statistic about organizational change: 70% of change initiatives fail. But what does that mean? Where did that number come from? And is it even true? Jennifer Frahm, Director of Conversations of Change, joins the show from Australia to discuss the history and dispel the myth that many accept as fact.

Design Breakthrough Change Communication

Guest:  Dotty Posto

dottypostoIn this episode, Dotty Posto, President of Posto Management Consulting, shares how to use creativity to design breakthrough change communication. Listen in to learn how to gain attention in the sea of information in today’s workplace.


Modernizing Change Management with Agile and Lean Practices

Guest:  Jason Little

jl-profile-picJason Little, author of Lean Change Management, discusses his collection of innovative practices for managing organizational change. He combines ideas from many communities, including the Lean Startup, Agile and Lean worlds, to create an adaptable and scalable model for managing the complexity of change in today’s world.

Managing Change in Today’s Dynamic Global Economy

Guest:  Supriya Desai

supriyaIn this episode, Supriya Desai, Principal at ASC* Advisory, shares why in today’s global business environment – characterized by volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity – we must step up our role as change practitioners to develop our organizations to be change-agile.


Using the Power of Conversations to Influence Change

Guest:  Ankit Patel

ankitIn this episode, Ankit Patel, Managing Partner of The Lean Way Consulting, discusses how to use the natural information flows in your organization to influence change. Listen in to learn the different types of conversations that happen in organizations, and how to tap into them to get people talking about the right things.

CQ:  How to Develop Your Change Intelligence

Guest:  Barbara Trautlein

barbara trautleinWhat’s your CQ?  This month, Barbara Trautlein, author of Change Intelligence and Principal at Change Catalysts, joins the show to discuss the types of change intelligence and how to develop yours to become more influential at work.


How to Avoid and Manage Change-Related Overload

Guest:  Linda Hoopes

lindahoopesWhy does change cause overload? How can you tell when people are overloaded? How do you avoid overload? How do you help people deal with overload? In this episode, Dr. Linda Hoopes, President at Resilience Alliance, returns to the show to discuss the impact of change-related overload. She’ll share tips on how to avoid it, and how to manage it when you can’t.

Leading Change With and Without Authority

Guest:  Danny Peterson

dannypetersonLike many change agents, this month’s guest had a unique career path that brought him to that role. Danny Peterson was CEO of a large nonprofit organization. When he retired, he went back to work — this time as the Manager of Global Continuous Improvement within a Fortune 500 company. In this episode, we’ll explore Danny’s experience with influencing change as CEO and how it compared to leading change from the middle of a large company.


How to Measure and Maximize Alignment in Your Change Initiatives

Guest:  Michael Taylor

michaeltaylorEver wonder if people in your organization are really on the same page when it comes to change? In this episode, Michael Taylor of SchellingPoint shares a way to measure and maximize alignment in your change initiatives. We discuss why alignment is important, who needs to be aligned, how to tell if you have alignment or not, and what you can do when you need better alignment.

The Four Workplace Conversations

Guest:  Skip Weisman

Skip_LoResHeadshot-210x300In this episode, workplace communication expert Skip Weisman shares the four conversations that happen at work, three of which create low morale, low productivity and kill profits. Which one works? Listen to find out The Four Workplace Conversations, how and why they occur and specific strategies to move to the one “right” conversation.



Change-Friendly Leadership

Guest:  Rodger Dean Duncan

rodgerdeanduncanBestselling author Rodger Dean Duncan of Duncan Worldwide shares nuggets of wisdom from his book, Change-Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance. Listen to hear what Dr. Duncan calls the Four T’s: key leadership behaviors that drive change.


IGNITE Your Communication Style to Gain Influence and Impact

Guest:  Debora McLaughlin

deboramclaughlinIn this episode, Debora McLaughlin, author of The Renegade Leader and and Running in High Heels, joins the show to share her easy to remember I.G.N.I.T.E. model for increasing your influence and impact at work. Listen in to also learn how communication impacts your influence, and how you can evaluate whether you might need to alter your communication style.


Would you like to be a guest on The Change Agent’s Dilemma?  Please contact me for more information.

Interview: IGNITE Your Communication Style to Gain Influence and Impact

In this episode, Debora McLaughlin, author of The Renegade Leader and Running in High Heels, joins the show to share her easy to remember I.G.N.I.T.E. model for increasing your influence and impact at work. Listen in to also learn how communication impacts your influence, and how you can evaluate whether you might need to alter your communication style.

Listen to the show here (30 minutes):

Be sure to visit the radio show page to listen to past episodes and subscribe to the show.