Leaders almost always need to introduce significant change at some point during their tenure. We have all heard the stories about businesses which failed to change before it was too late.
When change is needed, leaders often set out the agenda and, having ensured their authorising environment is on board, commence implementation. They find supporters who are as enthusiastic for the change as they are. These people become champions of the change: they are effectively the leader’s delegates for ensuring the success of the implementation. Leaders hope their champions’ enthusiasm will become infectious, so everyone gets on board. But hope isn’t a strategy.
What about the people who don’t get on board? The sceptics? The naysayers? The down-right obstructionist? Common practice is for the leader and the champions to sideline these people. But what if they actually have something useful to contribute?
Our research has shown that the sceptics really fall into two groups.
One group have made up their minds: nothing you say can shift them. They are effectively obstructionist and may even have an agenda which is not in line with the best interests of the organisation.
But the others are true sceptics. They are not telling you they think your idea for change is bad. They are telling you that you have – so far at least – failed to convince them.
Perhaps they can see some flaws in the process you have designed. Perhaps they are aware of something that you are not aware of. Maybe if you communicated your idea in a different way, they could move from scepticism to acceptance, and even to championing your change. In fact, they may be able to contribute ideas which will make your organisational change work better and deliver better results.
An executive coach can help you determine how best to work with your staff to ensure necessary change is implemented effectively and efficiently. An executive coach can help you find ways to determine who is a sceptic and what you need to do to bring them along with you, as you implement that vital change for your organisation.
In Part 2 of this topic, we will look at how sceptics can help you implement your change.