The start of a New Year usually finds people all fired up and determined to change. Usually it’s about personal fitness and health but often it’s about business change. But are you or your people really ready to change?
Leaders and coaches would do well to remember that there are various stages in the change process. If you are unprepared it may mean that your exciting plans to change flounder and founder.
This is where people might be unaware of or in denial about the need to change. The leader’s job is to raise awareness of the challenge by providing evidence and examples and including people in discussions to explore reasons and options.
This is where people are thinking about change but have not yet acted. The leader must encourage people to take responsibility by reflecting back their feelings and hesitation and helping them accept the change and find ways to implement.
People are now taking the first steps towards a change. The leader must develop commitment and help them take further small steps. Provide positive feedback on what has been achieved and ask them what they will do next. Gain agreement to the next steps.
People are taking regular action to change. Monitor progress to embed the change and provide positive feedback. Explore how to integrate these actions into day-to-day routines and regularly ask how things are going.
People are starting to feel good about the changes. The leader’s job is to ensure that there are no relapses and to celebrate successes before setting new stretching goals.
Inevitably there will be relapses. Most people take about six attempts before they achieve long term change and some argue that it can take 21 days to make or break a habit. The leader must normalise things by reframing the relapse as a normal part of the change process. Remind people of past successes, identify and resolve any issues creating the relapse and focus on the next steps.
I’ve written about other change management models and theories. And one of my favourites – addressing the rational rider, the emotional elephant and the specific steps on the path to change are detailed in my review of the book “Switch – How to change when change is hard” by Chip and Dan Heath http://kimtasso.com/change-management-book-review-switch-how-to-change-things-when-change-is-hard-by-chip-and-dan-heath/
Happy New Year!