According to consultant and author, Jiri Maly (Achieve change by accepting these inconvenient truths, Globe and Mail, Monday, December 28, 2009,, planning a process or business change is only part of the challenge of instituting change. Encouraging the staff to join in—especially one that’s battle-scarred from layoffs—poses as much of a challenge.

Maly offers no silver bullet, but finds the “inconvenient truth” approach apt. Succeeding in change requires accepting three:
  • Employers must seek buy-in for the change from the staff. To do so, employers must acknowledge the “thoughts, feelings and beliefs of those” affected.
  • Employees need to be motivated to make the change. But Maly derides “the common practice of ‘communicating the change story,’” which can “backfire;”suggesting, instead, that employees need to discover the need for change on their own and write their own stories. In that way, the develop “ownership” of the change process.
  • The work environment needs to support the change. Mass culture training and trying to plant change agents among the workers often fails to work as intended; Maly recommends smaller efforts such as short learning forums that explore the whys of instituting change.
When I read this article, it reminded me of one I read during the economic downturn of 1990-1992. Executives said that they knew what their organizations needed—but convincing their staffs to join the change was the challenge. What differed about this approach is that, although some of the advice was familiar (like gaining buy-in), they author acknowledged that some of the more popular tactics for implementing change aren’t working.
Question for discussion: What has worked for you in promoting change in your organization?
And just as significantly, what hasn’t?

About idmodelsandprocesses

Exploring, reporting, teaching, and advising on learning and communication for the workplace and consumers.
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