Ten Tips to Inspire Change
When someone tells you to change something, how do you respond? Are you defensive, frustrated or excited to do something different? Most people we know do not like to be told to change.
As a leader, you need to make change happen. The question is whether you tell people or inspire them to make the needed change. Here are ten tips to help inspire change:
- Make it vivid – use analogies, share examples, tell stories, help people SEE the change for themselves. Inspiration is all about stimulating, motivating encouraging and influencing others to action. When they see it, they believe it, they do it.
- Connect it to something bigger than the change. What is the greater why? What is the powerful purpose? Whether you tie the change to your vision and mission, your values or your strategy, inspiring change is bigger that itself!
- Model the change – if it’s good enough for someone else to do, it’s good enough for you to do. We are inspired by what we see people DO not just what they say. As Gandhi famously said, “BE the change you wish to see in the world.” Stop telling and start modeling the change.
- Build Trust – this is the key to all things change. The greater the trust, the less change friction you will experience. Trusted leaders are believed leaders. Trusted leaders inspire change, distrusted leaders incite stubborn resistance.
- Consequences Count – when people change, reward them. When people are not changing or behaving differently, your inaction sends a message. Lack of appropriate consequences shows the change is optional. How you respond to people changing and not changing broadcasts a message that inspires people to persevere in the change or disregard the change.
- Skill Well – there is a difference between skill and will, desire and capability. Inspiration only goes so far if the requisite skills aren’t developed. Make sure that the declaration of the change and the demonstration of the change is followed by the development of the needed skills for change.
- Crowdsource the Change – get others bought into the change. People look to their peers for guidance on how to behave. When early adopters buy in and are positively visible to their peers, social theory proves that key influencers create a tipping point toward the adoption of the change.
- Listen to Understand – during times of change, people need to process what is going on. We live in a “fix it” world where the mere mention of a frustration or inconvenience moves us into problem solving mode. Stop solving and start listening. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to make them feel “heard.” That means focus on understanding and do not solve. Just listen.
- Focus on the real change – in project speak, scope creep occurs when project requirements grow over the course of the project. Change creep can occur when you add new behaviors, new dimensions, new definitions to the change. Keep it simple, define the change priority and focus on it. It’s better to move one thing forward a foot than twelve things forward an inch!
- Speak Specifically – vague, unmeasurable statements cannot create change. People need to know what to do. “Conscious Listening” is a lovely idea but what does it mean? “Restate what you heard and ask a clarifying question to validate your understanding” is a specific behavioral prescription that enables clarity in change. Inspire change through specificity.
Actions speak louder than works. Inspiration is infinitely more successful in creating change. Choose your actions carefully as you inspire others to change.