What’s the Big Deal About Change
The big deal about change is usually not about strategy or structure or systems. All of those things are, of course, important. But the core of it all is feelings. In the world of human commerce, nothing changes unless and until people’s behaviors change. And the kind of behavior change that results in lasting (sustainable) change must accommodate people’s feelings –– feelings that involve trust, confidence, passion and all those other intangible, but very real, things that make us human. You can rent a man’s back and hands, but you must earn his head and heart.
Many so-called change efforts seem to employ the launch protocol of a belly flop –– lots of noise, big splashes, a few congratulatory whoops and hollers. But then the pain sets in. Sometimes a lot of pain. Change takes us out of our comfort zones and produces stress that people resist –– not the change itself. Even positive change produces stress.
Effective change requires genuinely engaging the brains of the people expected to embrace and even champion the new state of affairs. Effective change requires engaging people’s feelings –– not merely making a business case for action, but making a compelling psychological case for action. Effective change requires engaging people’s earnest hopes: their heartfelt aspirations, even their sense of self.
By definition, a Change-Friendly work environment engages people’s heads, hearts and hopes. True engagement is a function of discretionary effort. People don’t become engaged because they’ve been ordered or compelled to. They become engaged because they deliberately choose to invest their energy, enthusiasm, ingenuity and passion in a cause that has meaning and value for them. An “engagement gap,” then, is the difference between the level of discretionary effort needed to produce desired results and the level of discretionary effort actually expended.
When working with culture and performance issues, it is noticed that people connect to the organization across three dimensions:
- Rational: the “thinking” part of the relationship dynamic. How well do people understand their roles and responsibilities?
- Emotional: the “feeling” part. How much passion and energy do people bring to their work? To what extent are they vested in what’s best for the organization’s stakeholders?
- Motivational: the “acting” part of the relationship.How well do people perform their roles? How much effort do they put into personal improvement?
Based on responses to our questions (as well as our observations of their actual behavior), people are clustered into four groups:
- Engaged. These people are giving full discretionary effort. They have high scores on all three dimensions (Rational, Emotional, and Motivational).
- Enrolled. These people are partially engaged. They score well on the Rational and Motivational dimensions, but are less connected on the Emotional dimension.
- Disenchanted. These people are partly disengaged. They have lower scores on all three dimensions of engagement, especially the Emotional connection.
- Disengaged. These people have disconnected on all three dimensions. They do not contribute to organizational success and they are often a noticeable drag.
As you might expect, there can be migration within and between these clusters. With the right mix of opportunity, coaching and encouragement, Enrolled people can become fully Engaged. If they perceive opportunity to be diminishing, and absent the right coaching and encouragement, Enrolled people can become Disenchanted