Lasting change needs personal motivation

A few weeks ago I wrote about the cost of change in an organisation, and said that “it’s important to win support for the change with those that matter”. And of course, those that matter includes the people going through the change—the people whose day-to-day lives are actually subject to the change. Here I want to explain that a bit more.

Most people are used to their approach to day-to-day working. They may not think it’s perfect, but generally they’re used to it and have learned to work with it. Introducing change disrupts that. Perhaps some tasks need to be approached differently, perhaps they need to use different tools, maybe their processes change, or they have to interact with people differently. There will be a learning curve, and while they’re on that learning curve there will be mistakes, slow-downs, confusion and (inevitably) some frustration.

Furthermore, the person or people who are driving the change can’t be there all day, every day, to help every individual through their new challenges. So what’s going to ensure each individual persists in the face of difficulty? They need some kind of personal motivation to persist, and make the change a success.

To some extent there is some motivation in “Because my boss said so.” But that’s pretty weak, and generally only works if the change is very minor. With just this motivation alone a more significant change may work for a short time but is unlikely to last.

Much more effective is a motivation that is meaningful to an individual personally. So a prerequisite to introducing the change is understanding those people who are going to be impacted, understanding what their goals and frustrations are, and aligning the changes with those. The more that people can see that the goals of the change align with their own goals, the more they will persist with making the change a success. If some people ask awkward questions then it’s worth addressing those honestly.

And then when the people at the top—the people who are driving the change—step away, or turn their attention elsewhere, the more likely it is that the change will stick.

Photo by Victoria Pickering

2 thoughts on “Lasting change needs personal motivation

  1. People may question: “Why should we deliver better results in less time (Quality on Time)? After all, our salary won’t change by it.”
    Then I say: “I know. All I can offer is ‘professional pride’.”

  2. That’s very funny. They can also add it their CV, which might be useful if the company is looking to employ fewer people who are motivated only by their salary.

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