Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Getting the Uncommitted Onside

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. There are 4 strategies to help get the uncommitted on side

- accept responsibility for your piece of the mess

- acknowledge their loss

- model the desired behaviour

- accept casualties

i) Accept responsibility for your piece of the mess

You need to identify and accept responsibility for your contribution to the current situation, ie accept that you are part of the problem. If you are too quick to blame others, you create risks for yourself, such as misdiagnosing the situation and/or risk making yourself a target by denying that you are part of the problem and need to change. This may include making substantial, significant changes to your own beliefs and behaviours. After all, if you are blaming others and asking them to do something they don't want to do, the easiest option for them is to get rid of you - the dynamics become you versus them. Thus, by facing the problem together and each jointly accepting some responsibility for it, then you are not as vulnerable to attack.

ii) Acknowledge their loss

You may be asking people to choose between values and to close the distance between their espoused values and their actual behaviour. Confronting the gaps between our values and behaviours requires going through a period of loss. In fact, asking people to leave behind something they have lived with for years is inviting them to get rid of you. The status quo could be perceived as better than the unknown future for many people. Exercising leadership involves helping organisations work out what, and whom, they are willing to let go, ie of all the values honoured by the organisation, which of them can be sacrificed in the interest of progress?

There is a need to clarify the values at stake and the greater purpose worth the pain. Furthermore, there is a need to name and acknowledge the losses, ie the pain before the gain. Be prepared to grieve with them and commemorate the losses.

iii) Model behaviour

Generally, modeling the preferred behaviour is a more powerful way than just words. In most cases modeling is more than symbolic as people are taking real risks in doing what they are asking others to do. Even symbolic modeling can have substantial impact

iv) Accept casualties

If people cannot adapt, the reality is that they will be left behind, ie become casualties. Accepting casualties signals your recognition that they will be impeding progress. If you are unwilling to accept casualties, people receive mixed signals

(sources: Andrea Shapiro, 1999; Kerry Patterson et al, 1994; Ronald A. Heifetz, et al, 2002)


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