Relaxing in New York City on top of a building

In working with organizations over the years, I have observed a particular reaction people have when someone in their organization proposes a change, particularly a major one. Of course, the person who is putting forward the new idea has been thinking about it for some time and has invested their personal energy into it. Those on the listening end, who are required to make the idea a success, are hearing it for the first time and may have a mixed reaction to it. It is at this intersection where so many ideas fall apart.

People tend to work cooperatively on other’s ideas when there is something in trouble that requires immediate attention. In these instances everyone tends to pull together to solve the big issue in front of them.

In other situations leaders tend to use one of the following four strategies:

  1. Tell them what they’re going to do.
  2. Bribe them with a reward for doing what is required.
  3. Force them through a threat of some kind.
  4. Lead them.

Of the four, only number four truly works effectively. People respond favorably when they see how a new idea will improve what they are doing, not simply change how they’re doing it. As the saying goes, “Change for Change Sake” is not worth much to anyone.

Instead, each action that is required needs to foster and promote the culture that everyone agrees they want to produce. That’s most of the battle to motivate someone to do something new. It should be easy to see the positive results that will be achieved and even easier to explain. The key is to build a culture where people think and act in the manner necessary to achieve results they want.