Why making changes at work isn’t working

Are you a Theory Y Manager?

If I have targeted my audience correctly, hopefully you are more of a ‘Theory Y manager’ reading this (and not a ‘Theory X manager’).

That is, you have a positive view about your people and believe they do genuinely want to contribute to your business. You give them freedom and trust they will predominantly do the right thing.

In other words, you care about your people and trust that they care too.

Basically, Theory X & Y is an old rigid model of management styles from the 1960’s. Can you guess what type of management Theory X might look like?

Conversely, Theory X believes employees are inherently lazy, do not like their work and need to be controlled…. autocracy at its best (note strong sarcasm).   


What has X & Y Got to do With it?

 As rigid as this model is, these two types of management styles and the different way in which managers perceive employees make all the difference with how change is managed.

For the purposes of this article, I will assume we are working with Theory Y management style (you!).  

Theory X style on the other hand, will command change without engaging and motivating the employee. The change will be very outcome focused and not consider the emotional side of the employee. Considering how employees deal with change is important as it is needed for long term success, trust and buy-in from employees.

Even if the change appeared to be successful with Theory X management style, the ramifications for enforcing change are plentiful with apathy spreading like wildfire. Not exactly conducive for productivity, loyalty and engagement (yes, more sarcasm).


Speak to their Hearts and Brain Wiring

I am not saying change is easy. As a leader you are balancing many spinning plates and the thought of putting extra effort into facilitating change effectively can seem challenging, but it is well worth the extra energy.

There are many ways in which you can introduce, facilitate and integrate successful change with your people. More importantly, there are fundamental elements of change that support the hearts and minds of your people.

Here are some important elements to consider:


• How our brains are wired for change (or not wired for change)

Our brains are not always too excited about change and primarily want to keep the status quo. It also takes a lot more energy in the brain to change a habit or behavior.


The type of culture that supports change

Being adaptable to change is becoming a very desirable trait in recruitment these days, as organisations are very aware that the main reasons change fails is because of resistance from people, even if the change initiative is positive and well planned.

Welcoming change has to be embedded in the culture. Sometimes it’s what is said around the water cooler that will give you insight into the attitudes and perceptions around change.


• How change is communicated

In order to take on change we need to focus and pay attention to it repeatedly so that we adopt new habits that will then become our new way of being.

We also need to hear about the change consistently, receive positive reinforcement as well as having the change framed as exciting and positive.


• The amount of involvement in the change

We are most motivated when we make choices on our own. Being part of the new change gives us a sense of ownership and helps to drive the change on a whole new level.


Past experiences with change

With everything new that comes along, our brain looks at all our past experiences (our filing cabinet) to determine what we should make this new change mean.

If past experience with change has been negative, then the default will be to not respond positively to this new change. Even if rationally we feel this new change is a good idea…. it is our subconscious that runs our behaviour based on past experiences.    


One Size Does Not Fit All

Every organisation has its own personality and culture, so a method for change may work for one company but not work for yours… and that is ok.

Trial and error is normal…. it is how we learn and progress.

Be curious and find out what works for you and your people.

If you would like to know about all the keys for managing successful change with your people, we have created the “Change Checklist” tool, giving you 13 Keys to Successful Change.

Click here to grab instant access to your free checklist with no sign up required.

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