Might your need to be more successful at managing change
be met by this London UK based training course
called Skills with People?
Yes if you agree with any of the following
- When change is necessary and inevitable I get very impatient when people resist it.
- I wish they'd be more positive and accept that in the long run the risks of standing still far outweigh the risks of changing.
- I do my best to reason with them and urge them to think more positively, but the more I argue the more entrenched they seem to be. I sometimes wonder if it's worth the effort.
- But I feel I can't allow them to get away with such negativity.
What you'll take away from this managing change training course
You'll have a very effective method of overcoming people’s resistance to change and winning their cooperation. Handling people's resistance without argument is the key to managing change.
If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.
How to accept this offer
Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session.
What this session will do for you
In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.
You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).
Price, dates and location of our upcoming public courses
For details of our upcoming public courses see course dates.
How the skills you'll practise on this course
will make you more successful
at managing change
Why is managing change so difficult?
In his influential book, "Emotional Intelligence", Daniel Goleman surveyed human brain research and explained why people tend to become irrational when their emotions are aroused. He explained why you'll be more successful in getting the best out of people if you know how to deal effectively with emotions. He put forward the concept of emotional intelligence, and defined it as a set of learned skills - the ones we teach on the Skills with People course. It's never too late to learn or improve them, and even a small increase is beneficial.
The relevance of this concept for a manager in times of change is obvious. People's emotions are aroused by change. They're worried and threatened by it. The familiar conditions on which they rely for their sense of wellbeing, self-esteem and security are perceived to be at risk. Whether the risk is real or only imagined, it evokes an involuntary emotional reaction. This natural defensive reaction doesn't need to be interpreted as a sign of poor motivation, weakness or negativity. It's simply how a normal person instinctively responds to threatening circumstances. But managing it calls for the skills of emotional intelligence.
The problem is that although the skills of emotional intelligence are simple and learnable, they go against most people's conditioning and life-long habits. Most of us have been conditioned to bottle up feelings:-
- "There, there, don't cry." "Pull yourself together." "Let's be rational - let's not get emotional."
Behind these common and probably well-meant phrases is an emotionally repressive assumption, that the more you express a bad feeling the worse you feel, that if you stop expressing it you'll feel better, in other words that the way to stop people being resistant to change is to discourage them from expressing negative feelings. But this is challengeable. It's based on a dubious understanding of how the human brain works. In contrast the following statements are probably much nearer the truth:-
- The more you express feelings the more rational you are able to be.
- Bottling up feelings makes people less, not more, rational.
- A good way to make people more receptive to managing change is to encourage them to let off steam.
How can you put this idea for managing change into practice?
Here's a suggestion about how to run a meeting where people are likely to resist change. We call it a "Change meeting" or a "Managing change meeting". A very large number of our clients have found this method has been not only fun to use but also very effective in overcoming people's resistance to change.
How to run a managing change meeting
This method solves the problem of how to handle resistance to change in a room full of people each with a different concern? You can't empathise with them all at once, so how then can you encourage them to express their concerns and yet prevent the meeting from turning into chaos? It needs both a firm hand and a clear structure.
Here's a structure for running such a meeting. It will enable you not only to listen with empathy to each person who has a concern, but also to keep firm control. It’s also good fun running a meeting this way, not only for you but also for the other members of the meeting:-
We suggest you introduce the meeting along the lines below (adapting the words as needed):-
- Thank you for attending this meeting. My purpose is to tell you (or consult you, or help you decide) about X. This is an emotive/controversial subject. I’m sure you will have questions and concerns about it, and I want to hear them all. So this is how I’m going to run the meeting:-
- Instead of waiting until I’ve finished talking, I want you to interrupt me whenever you have a question or a concern. Yes, it’s quite okay for you to interrupt me. Instead of trying to answer you right away, I will first check that I understand your point and then I’ll put in on the flip chart, where it will stay until you’re satisfied it’s been answered. The flip chart will be our agenda for this meeting.
- Now, before I tell you about X, let’s start building the agenda in the flip chart with your immediate questions and concerns. Who would like to start? …
- Is that all for the time being? Now I’ll talk, but remember, please don’t sit nursing a question or a concern. Call it out. Interrupt me as soon as it comes into your mind.
The crucial skill for a managing change meeting
The crucial skill you need for running this managing change meeting is empathy in response to each of their comments, questions and concerns. It is difficult to avoid being drawn into trying to give answers, particularly when what they say sounds negative – as in this example. Imagine you're introducing a change in working methods to your team. Imagine one of them says:-
- "Whose stupid idea is it to make this change, anyway?"
The person who asked this question obviously feels bad. But instead of being aware of it and admitting it, his feelings errupt as an aggressive question. He sounds very negative, and your heart sinks because he's threatening to create a bad atmosphere in the meeting. But actually, even though he sometimes expresses himself negatively, he's a highly motivated member of the team. Behind his aggressive question is a genuine concern. On the Skills with People course we'll give you a lot of coaching in how to respond with empathy to these kinds of questions, in the way shown in the example below:-
HE: Whose stupid idea is it to make this change, anyway?
YOU (empathy): You obviously feel bad about the change. I imagine it’s because you need to be convinced there’s a good reason for it before agreeing to it.
HE (surprised at being handled so positively and calmly): We’ve had a lot of change lately. It makes it very hard to keep our standards up.
YOU (more empathy): And that’s why you don’t want to do it unless you’re convinced there’s a real need for it.
HE (lets off steam): Exactly! (Your empathy has won his trust, as well as the trust of all the others.)
YOU: Thank you. I hope by the end of this meeting you'll be convinced. (You write, “Why is it necessary?” on the flip chart with his initials beside it.) This won’t be crossed off until you’re convinced…. Who’s next?
The others now feel encouraged to speak up frankly about their concerns. The atmosphere in the meeting rapidly improves. Everyone feels good. Their mood is now for you and for the change you want them to agree to. Their confidence in you has been given an enormous boost. Below are some guidelines about crucial dos and don’ts when running this meeting:-
Dos and don’ts when running a managing change meeting
- Do listen with empathy to every single question or comment, in order to try to find the concern behind it. Keep reflecting back until each person speaking feels understood.
- Do write it on the flip chart, as near as possible in the words of the person raising it, before listening to the next concern or question. The flip chart is the meeting’s agenda.
- Do have faith that behind any negative, hostile or confused question or comment is a genuine concern that deserves your respect and understanding. If you can keep this up people will be very impressed and you will have a very positive effect on the meeting.
- Do be assertive in keeping a firm hand on the meeting. Stick strictly to your plan.
- Don’t be drawn into trying to answer a question or concern while you are drawing up the agenda of concerns, no matter how tempting. It will undermine your control.
- Don’t take part in or allow any discussion until all questions and concerns have been captured. This, too, will undermine the meeting plan.
- Don’t cross any item off the agenda until it has been dealt with to the satisfaction of the person who raised it. This will make people feel safe a give them a sense of control.
Yet more reasons why you might benefit from
this training in managing change
- Emotional intelligence is one of the key change management skills you need to develop.
- Managing change is about being able to win people to your way of thinking and get them to accept change .
- You can't manage change and carry people with you in the workplace if you don't know how to handle and overcome their resistance to change.
- There's a way of running meetings that will enable you to be more successful at facilitating and managing change.