One source indicates that up to 40 percent of our daily activities are executed on autopilot without giving much thought to what we’re doing. And you know what, we love it, because we truly are creatures of habit. Habits are easy, effortless, and what we’ve become accustomed to. So when someone mentions the word change, we often want to put on the brakes and tell them they can keep their change. However, change is not just a necessary part of life, but one of the defining elements of life. The more we understand the process of change, the easier it will be for us to embrace it and to facilitate it with our employees. So, what are the steps of change?
The ADKAR Model, developed by Prosci, proposes that change is a five-step process consisting of awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement; occurring in that order. I’ve found that often times in our industry we like to jump right into the “knowledge” step when trying to implement change in our organizations. For example, let’s say we attend a seminar and discover a great new way to increase sales. Upon returning from the event, we gather our techs together and pass down the knowledge of exactly what they must do. However, weeks pass and nothing changes. So we begin wondering: Was I not clear? Were they not listening? Did they not understand? And in response, we hold another meeting, telling them all over again what they must do. This cycle repeats itself for a few times until we ultimately give in to our frustrations and give up on the change. Why? Possibly because we failed to address the first step necessary for change, awareness.
When we’re presented with a change to how we’ve been doing things, a floodgate of internal questions bursts forth, the central of which is wanting to know why andwhat’s in it for me? If these fundamental questions aren’t adequately and fully addressed, then the change stops here. People must have an awareness of why the change is occurring before they will ever be open to accepting the knowledge of how to change. So how can we go about creating awareness?
Communicate, communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. Awareness isn’t a one-and-done activity. People hear, filter, and internalize information in different ways and at different paces, so multiple forms and occasions for communication will help to ensure everyone’s questions are answered satisfactorily. To ensure success in creating awareness, consider these three points:
• Provide a compelling reason to change. If your technicians have been selling a certain way for their entire careers, you need to provide a great reason they should adopt a new process. Will it make the sales experience easier? Will it provide them opportunities to achieve greater bonuses? Will it solve common problems they currently encounter?
• Create a change champion. You need someone who really believes in the change and who can drive the emotion and energy of why you’re doing this. Ideally this person should be a leader near the top of an organization and a person with the power to make the change happen. If this person is not a champion for the change, then doubt will surface as technicians’ reason, “Then why should I be?”
• Communicate to the masses and to the individual. Once you have a compelling reason and a change champion, then it’s time to cascade the message to the masses. Plan your meetings and your message, ensure clarity, and repeat often. Recognize that while mass communication is necessary, that alone isn’t enough. Direct managers should be having individual conversations with employees to answer questions that are unique to each individual.