Ever heard the phrase “change is hard’?
I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding about that phrase. In reality there is a range of “change capabilities”. Depending on the context, change can be in an instant or permanent change can take time.
I’ve learned over the years that change can be immediate, but transformation... takes time.
What is hard…really hard…is what leads up to change. Getting to the point of change is the tough part. Here’s what I mean.
In the work I do, helping companies achieve better results through leadership and management development, I help decision-makers get to the point of deciding to initiate change…to their benefit.
Even with all the evidence and constant discussion about the epidemic of incompetent or bad managers and yet with virtually everyone agreeing that good managers are needed…getting decision-makers to the point of deciding to employ management training is tough. If it wasn’t, it’d be pervasive. In fact, almost every company would have it as a part of their business development plan.
But we know that just is not happening. Ever wondered why?
Think about this for a moment. Why is the decision to do something so obviously needed so difficult to do?
Well, the ultimate answer I believe is fear. But there’s more. And the more… are 3 undeniable truths about change.
1. Decision-Makers are Caught in a Trance
The concept of trance: if you looked up the word there are a variety of definitions. The one that best applies here is numb to current realities because of conditioned acceptance. This means current reality – status quo is acceptable and best…it’s the way it’s suppose to be – the way it’s done – so don’t look for alternatives.
In the world of leadership and management training, under the umbrella of HR, there is a conditioned way of seeing this, how it’s approached, the role it plays in business development and management.
Unfortunately, this trance reinforces a huge disconnect between the compelling need for training and development and it’s direct, positive impact to profitable business operations and growth. What if management and leadership training was not under the HR umbrella at all, and placed as a common planned and practiced under the umbrella of business management and development.
Consider this …if most folks in an industry reinforce a trance with what’s typical, how is there hope for real innovation and change?
An undeniable change saboteur – we operate under industry trances. For substantial change – true transformation to occur…
We have to be able to think way beyond the box, we have to think outside the trance.
So an important question for an individual decision-maker would be, if you don’t know you’re caught up in an industry trance – how would you develop the awareness to change it?
2. Risk & Trust is Difficult
They say in marketing that people do business with whom they like and trust. Well, what if there is no one in your trust circle that has the capabilities to meet a business need. What if everyone in your trust circle is under the same trance as you? Then what? Perhaps you could seek a referral for an “outsider”? But then, would you trust them?
Therein lies the next dilemma, finding someone to help…someone that you would have to risk trusting. Most of us are not open to trusting outsiders. They’re strangers and we’re not good at that…generally for good reason. But that doesn’t serve us well in every case.
Risk is scary…which for many makes getting help hard. Some would rather continue suffering than risk trusting.
And…what if you ran across someone who you could potentially trust, but recommended something way outside the “accepted” practice? Then what?
3. Fear of Loss Cripples
And finally, our 3rd change saboteur is fear of loss. When finally presented with the opportunity for help, it typically comes wrapped in the dreaded cloak of change. And since change suggests risk, it also presents the possibility of loss. Risk by its nature infers the possibility of loss.
Let’s face it, fear of losing is embedded in our human DNA. Nobody likes it, nobody wants to experience it, claim it, be subjected to it. We don’t want to lose anything – tangible or intangible…money, time, talent, pride, confidence, you name it.
Decision-makers, in particular, have to carry the shame of it because the impact is beyond them as individuals. It usually carries with it a ripple effect. Nothing is worse than making a bad decision and having to walk the cubicle row of shame every day until the pang of injury wears off.
You have to be willing to lose to gain. It’s a business and life lesson for sure.
So, if you are a key decision-maker in your business and you are even remotely aware of areas that need improvement and yet no action has been taken, no progress has been to address them, ask yourself how these 3 saboteurs apply to you and/or your leadership team.
One of the most tortuous conditions in leadership is to desire change and yet keep undermining any effort – for whatever the reasons – to pursue it.