One of my favorite jokes: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change!
Leaders constantly face the challenge of managing change in their organizations. After having helped facilitate change in hundreds of companies, I’ve found that there are three types of employees:
- The Resisters – These folks are dead set against any change. Whether it’s because they’ve hit a comfort zone they don’t want to leave or because they don’t want to be “found out” as not being as valuable as everyone thinks they are, they’ll naturally try to sabotage or resist change. When dealing with these employees, the rule is simple: Either they get on board or they find someplace else to work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met employers who will allow one group of employees to go in a new direction and another group to stay put, thus creating an incredible division within the company. Either there will be change or there won’t — and these people are either going to get on the bus or they need to find another place to work.
- The Sheep – You can hear them now, “Baaaaaah.” These folks will go along with anything. The only problem is that they go along with it with only one foot in. This is because they live in what I call “small worlds.” To motivate these employees, you have to make their world bigger. For example, I worked with one company that focused on the internal aspects of change – never allowing the employees to fully understand the impact of this change on its clients. To paint a bigger picture for the staff, we brought in clients to share their stories, which had triggered the need for the change. Now the change has a purpose that motivates these employees to get both feet in.
- The Champions – These people have been awaiting change for some time, in fact, they might have even prompted it. The challenge with these folks is to keep them focused, remembering that they still have a job to do even though you’re implementing change. Be inclusive with them, but don’t let them get overwhelmed by spending too much time addressing change protocols.
Those are your three basic personality types, and the best ways to deal with each one of them. If you’ve learned any tricks of the change trade, please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.