Interview: The Four Workplace Conversations

In 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.

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.

How to Thrive (and Not Dive) as a Change Agent

When we take on a change agent role in an organization, we start off with high hopes for making a difference. Whether you’re hired into the position, assigned or volunteered to take it on, there are a number of things that can help set you apart as someone who can get things done. On the other hand, not doing these things can cause your effort to crash and burn.

propercareandfeedingAlign Your Efforts to the Bigger Picture.

There’s no faster way to burn out as a change agent than working counter to the stated goals and strategy of the organization. And even if you’re not at odds with the direction the organization is trying to move, if you appear to be working on something superfluous, it will be hard to gain attention and support. Find the connection to the bigger picture, however tenuous, and make sure it’s visible. If you aren’t privy to the strategy, make the case that you need to know it. If there isn’t one, help leaders articulate it so you can elevate your project from ancillary to essential.

Get Yourself a Sponsor.

Many a change agent has been left in limbo because leaders washed their hands of the project as soon as it was assigned a manager. Instead, maintain accountability with those who have the authority to make or break your effort. Find someone who can be your advocate and help you keep your initiative well fueled with resources and timely decisions. Define the sponsor role up front and mutually set expectations for how you will work together to implement change.

Work With People, Not Against Them.

When people aren’t doing what they said they will, or aren’t reacting to change in ways that make sense, it can be easy to fault them for not supporting or participating in change. Placing blame is a sure way to create conflict and weaken your influence. Instead, be curious about what’s happening from their perspective, and work to understand what’s really going on. Be more of a detective than an interrogator. It’s easier to influence when you’re on their side than when you’re working against them.

Do What It Takes.

Being an effective change agent takes a lot of effort, usually behind the scenes: Gain commitment individually rather than relying on a generalized group presentation to do the job. Design meetings in advance rather than just showing up. Provide feedback to and address the resistance of leaders and anyone else. Design programs to help managers cascade the change throughout the organization. Facilitate awkward conversations that would otherwise go undiscussed. Doing what it takes to help people align and change, even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult, makes all the difference.

Making an impact in your organization as an individual is a challenging feat of drive and influence. Effective change agents stand out as someone who can make a difference when they align themselves to the bigger picture within the organization, when they make sure they have an advocate with more authority, when they work with people and not against them, and when they decide to do what it takes to make it happen.

Ready to thrive in your role as a change agent? Find out how we can work together to influence change in my Influence Accelerator Coaching Program.

Interview: How to Measure and Maximize Alignment in Your Change Initiatives

Ever 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.

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.

Can’t Get Support for Change? Just Hide It

In my 2010 book 99 Ways to Influence Change, one thing I did not include was to Hide It. Yet, I’ve heard recent examples of people doing just that – implementing change even when it’s been explicitly shot down or repeatedly unsupported at the top.

Peeping Tom

In one case, a presenter at a PMI event shared a number of ways to implement Agile software development practices in an organization, and one of the approaches she called “Black Market Agile.” In the example she cited, they had decided against implementing Agile at the corporate level, but one division decided to do it anyway, finding ways to somehow hide it from view while gaining the benefits.

Another case of hidden change was from a sustainability manager who was denied support from the leader of one business unit. Rather than count the business unit as a lost cause, in an approach she called “Covert Ops,” she found allies at lower levels who could implement sustainable practices within the scope of their own influence.

In my own experience, I was once told to stop working on an employee engagement project because top management thought my time would be better spent on other projects. Rather than let the initiative die, I worked behind the scenes with a supportive group of lower-level managers to carry the torch, at least in their own areas.

A common theme across all these examples is the limitation in scope that occurs when you’re hiding your efforts from view. The change can never expand to the point where it would be visible to the leader who opposes it. Going rogue can be successful within the scope of your own influence, but if and when you want to expand to the rest of the organization, you’ll have to find a way to safely step back into the light.

Asking forgiveness instead of permission has its risks and advantages. Whether you call it Black Market Change or Covert Ops, hiding your change efforts can be a risky endeavor, especially if you’ve been explicitly told not to do it. But it also has the benefits of starting small and proving the concept, so you can show people who originally doubted that it is something worth doing. And sometimes, you can ingrain a change so far into an organization that it is impossible to turn back.

Have you had experience trying to hide your change project? Was it successful? What happened when they found out about it?

How to Be Heard When No One is Listening

When implementing change in your organization, you may come to a point when you’re frustrated because your ideas don’t seem to go anywhere. Your suggestions are getting shot down or ignored, but no one seems to have any better ones for moving forward.

not listening

How can you be heard when no one’s listening? The following tricks can open up dialogue when you’ve reached an impasse.

Check Your Own Expectations

When you say no one is listening, are they really ignoring you, or does it mean no one agrees with you or people aren’t doing what you want? Your frustration is caused in part by your interpretation of others’ behaviors (or lack thereof) in response to what you’re saying. Separate the facts from what you think they mean, so you can act more objectively. If people aren’t doing what you expect, maybe your expectations need a dose of reality. If people won’t do what you want, perhaps they’re not the only ones being stubborn. Let go of having to do things your way.

Go Backwards to Gain Agreement

If no one is listening to your suggestions for how to implement change, then somewhere along the way, the paths toward change may have diverged. You’ll have to backtrack to find out where people are on their own path. If the problem you’re solving is obvious to you, you may think everyone else sees it and agrees what it is. But if your suggestions are falling on deaf ears, it may not have anything to do with your proposed solution. People may think you’re solving the wrong problem, or may not even see the problem at all. Take a couple steps back to gain agreement that a problem exists, and what that problem is. Find the common ground on which you can build further agreement.

Listen First

Listening is a two-way street. If you feel like you’re not being heard, then it’s likely you’re not the only one in the conversation who feels that way. Open up dialogue with genuine curiosity about their point of view. Help others work through their own resistance by making it ok to express it, and by working to understand what’s causing it, without judgment. Rather than advocate for a specific solution, show that you want to work together to come up with a path forward that can work for everyone.

Find Allies

Let’s face it, not everyone has the same influence in your organization. And while it can be infuriating when someone else suggests the same idea as you and gets different results, partnering with someone who has more sway can help your idea be heard, even if it’s not directly from you. Find people in the organization who also feel your pain (or whose pain may have similar solutions) and see what you can do together within your joint span of influence.

Think Inside the Box

When you’re at an impasse, you may have to stop trying to eliminate your constraints and instead be creative within them. People insist something can’t be done? Leaders aren’t interested in your suggested course of action? Instead of arguing, look for ways to dress what you know they need so it looks like something they want.

When no one seems to be listening to your ideas, shouting them louder is probably not the way to be heard. Instead, evaluate your approach to see where you may be causing people to stop listening. Look for ways to open a dialogue. Find where you do agree. Ask curious questions and listen. Find partners who can expand your influence. And if necessary, be creative by fitting solutions within the walls people have put up, so they will listen.

Fuel your project with the Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ online course – Starts September 17

Looking for new ways to keep your change project going when the going gets tough?

Would you prefer it if it weren’t so tough to begin with?

Starting on September 17, join me for the Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ webinar series. You’ll learn a practical, straightforward methodology with exercises, templates and tips to help you keep your change project moving forward. ICwebinarnodate In this 5-part 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 keeping going even when it hits those inevitable bumps along the way. You’ll also have the chance to ask questions and get advice on how to apply the principles on your project.

Each 90-minute webinar comes with companion templates you can use immediately to implement what you’ve learned. You can attend each webinar individually, or sign up for all five events and you’ll get the complete set of templates, plus you’ll get the Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook for just the cost of shipping!

Check out the five topics we’ll cover in depth over the course of the series. Click the titles for more information on individual events.

Register for the whole series at once, or add any of the individual webinars to the cart and then click “View Cart” to register for just those events. And don’t worry if don’t know your availability that far in advance – all webinars will be recorded so you can still watch the ones you miss.

Fall 2014 Schedule

Date Topic Price Register
September 17 Define Your Change
Clarify what really needs to change in order to achieve the desired results for your organization.
$75
October 1 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.
$75
October 15 Gain Leadership Support
Navigate the roles and relationships of change to get leaders to help you implement change.
$75
October 29 Design and Communicate Change
Create the structural elements that will drive change, and develop a plan to pinpoint communication.
$75
November 12 Elevate Your Influence
Increase and leverage your own power to make a bigger impact at work.
$75
The Irresistible Change Guide Toolkit
A workbook plus 35+ templates to help you design and influence change.
$147
FULL SERIES Attend all 5 webinars for a discount, PLUS you get the Irresistible Change Guide™ toolkit, for just the cost of shipping! $522 $297

View CartNote: All events start at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Feel free to gather a small group to watch the webinar(s) together. However, each registration for the complete series comes with only one Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook. If you would like to purchase additional workbooks, you may add them to the shopping cart here.

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!

Interview: Leading Change With and Without Authority

Like 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.

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.

The Reason for Change Management – Signed, Sealed and Delivered

I was at the post office recently to mail a package. The postal worker at the counter was friendly and made funny voices at my 6 year old daughter to make her laugh. He was the picture of good customer service.

Then, as he nearly completed the transaction to add postage to the package, he accidentally touched a button on the screen that apparently canceled the whole transaction. His demeanor changed. He made a noise of frustration and started inputting the information again.

maildeliveryMe, empathetically:  “Push the wrong button?”

Him, exasperated:  “Well, Management moved one of these buttons, just for the sake of change, so they can  say they accomplished something and collect their $200,000.”

My first thought while I was standing there was, “Managers at the post office make $200,000?”

Then I thought:  On the surface, this guy seems disproportionally upset about a button.

But of course, it wasn’t about the button.

Somewhere between someone else’s idea to move the button on the screen and this guy doing his job, something broke down.

And it wasn’t just that he had made a mistake while serving the customer, causing me and everyone behind me to wait longer. After a little bit of practice, that error would eventually go away.

The effect was more than that. Somewhere between the idea to implement a change and this guy changing the way he does his job, he became a victim.

Many changes happening in organizations today are more complicated:  software installations, process improvements, restructurings, strategy execution, to name a few. How much more disruption would large-scale changes cause when a seemingly small change can cause a reaction like that?

Change done badly leaves victims in its wake. And it affects morale, productivity, customer service, trust in management, and ultimately profitability.

What other reason do you need for doing change well?

The Irresistible Change Guide is now available with more tips and templates to help you influence change at work!

Two years ago, I introduced the Irresistible Change Guide™ as an easy-to-use change management toolkit to help people with the essential yet often elusive components of implementing change. Since then, it’s helped scores of change agents design and influence change at work.

Here’s what some of them have said after using the Irresistible Change Guide:

“The Irresistible Change Guide is stuffed with practical, pragmatic and just plain real guidance on how to make meaningful change happen in organizations.”

“I use it every time I need people to alter their behavior in support of my initiative and have had great success.”

“Thanks to the Irresistible Change Guide, now I understand WHY people resist change. With that clarity, I am able to pinpoint how to effect change with different people in my organization.”

“I recommend it as a starting point to plan a change effort or as a Guide to access when you are feeling stuck.”

Since the initial publication of the Guide, I’ve developed even more tools to help understand the impact of change and to develop better methods to influence change.

Today I’m relaunching the Guide in a new format — with even more tips, exercises, and templates — and at a more affordable price!

 

IRRESISTIBLE CHANGE GUIDE™

DESIGN & INFLUENCE CHANGE

WITHOUT GETTING STUCK

Toolkit: $147

buynowbutton

Irresistible Change Guide toolkit pic

The Irresistible Change Guide provides a straightforward model for thinking about and organizing your change efforts. It includes more than 35 exercises and templates to help you clarify your change, uncover and reduce resistance, gain support, and design ways to influence change on large and small scales.

As a result of completing the Irresistible Change Guide, you will:

  • Clarify what really needs to change in your organization to achieve the desired result
  • Pinpoint the underlying causes of resistance and determine how to reduce or eliminate them
  • Define whose support you need and figure out how to get it
  • Figure out which systems, programs and tools will drive the change forward
  • Determine the practical steps you can take to shift individuals and groups
  • Build your personal influence in your organization.

Check out the sidebar to see what other change agents have said after using the Irresistible Change Guide.

Using the Irresistible Change Guide, you can implement change yourself with these options:

Workbook

Templates

Toolkit

spiral bound pic templatespic Irresistible Change Guide toolkit pic
Spiral Bound Workbook with
Paper Templates
Spiral Bound Workbook with
Paper Templates
Immediate download:
PDF Templates
PowerPoint Templates
Bonus Reference Guides
PLUS
Immediate download:
PDF Templates
PowerPoint Templates
Bonus Reference Guides

$75

$97

$172
$147

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OR
You can order the
paperback version
only at Amazon:

Also available at
Amazon Europe.

buynowbutton buynowbutton

 

No matter which option you choose, the time you will save by using the templates is worth more than the price alone, but the real value of the Irresistible Change Guide is the impact you will make by bringing about results.

I am so excited about what the Irresistible Change Guide has already done for clients and what it can do for you too. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to answer them for you.

May your change initiative be truly irresistible!

Best wishes,

hstagl icon Heather Stagl
Enclaria LLC

Note: If you are a consultant or training organization interested in using the Irresistible Change Guide™ as part of your services, or if you are building an internal change methodology and would like to incorporate all or part of the Irresistible Change Guide™ into your approach, please contact me for bulk pricing or licensing.

Four Features to Look For in a Change Management Methodology

When you embark on implementing change at work, a change management methodology provides a way to organize your activities, focus your attention, and engage others in a common approach. There are many frameworks to choose from – five levers, eight steps, five phases, three stages – so how do you know which methodology to use?

game-plan

The easy answer is that you should use the one that makes sense in your situation, a methodology you feel comfortable using and one that will work in your organization. But when you’re selecting an approach to help you implement change, there are a few more features you want to make sure are included. Here are four features to look for in a change management methodology.

Clarifies What’s Really Changing

Most change management approaches assume you know what you’re trying to change. Yet often, the vision is unclear and the transitions required to achieve it are overlooked. If your methodology skips the step that defines the change, you risk implementing an initiative that doesn’t achieve the desired result, or worse, has unintended consequences. Using an approach that clarifies what you’re really trying to change, and what will cause the outcome to happen, provides the raw materials for designing change that has lasting impact.

More Than Just Plans

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.” It’s necessary to develop plans to anticipate what will happen, plot a course, and stay organized. But once you start to implement, the plans are superseded by what actually happens. You need a framework that will help you influence change in the moment and help you figure out what to do when things inevitably go off plan.

Closes the Gap Between Theory and Reality

Change management models are helpful and can provide valuable insight. The hard part is figuring out how to translate it to your own situation. For example, you know you need to communicate change, but what should you communicate and how? Mediocre methodologies explain how change works. Great methodologies not only explain and simplify change, they provide tools to help you customize and implement it in your organization.

Inclusive of Other Methodologies

If you come across a methodology that tells you it’s the only one you’ll ever need, or worse, that you cannot use other methodologies in concert with it, cross it off your list. Organizations are not so predictable, projects are not cookie-cutter, and you are not a robot. Credible methodologies allow you to incorporate other approaches to customize your change initiative to best suit your organization, your project, and your own style of influence. There is no one size fits all solution. You should not be discouraged from learning as many methodologies as you can to figure out what combination will work for you.

When implementing change, using a change management model helps you make sense of things. If you want your methodology to help you implement change that works, be sure it has all four of these core features in addition to a solid, straightforward framework.

Looking for a methodology that includes all these features and that users call practical and straightforward? Order the Irresistible Change Guide today!