Change is unavoidable. Whether it’s driven by competitors, the economy, government regulation, or technological shifts, change will affect your business on a regular basis. And this is only the reactive change. If you have a vision for your business, and are proactively executing a strategy to realize this vision, you are also initiating the change you desire to transform your business.

And yet the thought of implementing change in our businesses is very scary indeed. It’s the kind of scary that keeps you awake at night dreaming of looming disaster. We’ve all been told, and witnessed firsthand, how many people resist change, and sometimes actively oppose change.

The reality is that what people really hate is change that is thrust upon them without an understanding of why the change is necessary or what benefit it will drive. People also hate poorly implemented change.

So here are the two ways in which a leader can dramatically improve the probability of successful change initiatives (and get a better night’s sleep);

1. The WHY. Understand why the change is necessary and desired, and communicate this clearly and frequently. Tie it into your company values, purpose and envisioned future as much as possible. These are the core elements of your business all engaged employees care about, so link your change efforts to these.

2. The PLAN. More thought is often given to the change itself than to the plan for implementing the change. If the change is important, then invest the time to create a thorough project plan that increases the probability of success.

Always be mindful that any change in your business involves change in people’s behavior. It takes more than wishful thinking to influence people to change.

There is an excellent book entitled, “Influencer” whose authors lay out the three keys to influence that should be the basis for any change initiative;

* Focus and Measure

* Find Vital Behaviors

* Engage All Six Sources of Influence

Focus and Measure

Create, communicate and track clear compelling goals using value-based language (eg Core Values). Identify measures that are key to the behavioral change desired.

Measure frequently, and avoid “bad” measures that create unwanted behavioral change.

Find Vital Behaviors

Only a few vital behaviors (1 or 2) are necessary to create a cascade of change. Identify the vital behaviors you want to affect, and focus on just a few. Remember the Pareto Principle; you will get 80% of your results by focusing on the top 20% of the relevant behaviors.

Engage All Six Sources of Influence

Virtually all forces that have an impact on human behavior work on only two basic drivers of behavior;

* “Will it be worth it?” (Am I motivated?)

* “Can I do what’s required?” (Am I able?)

The Six Sources of Influence are found when these two domains are subdivided into three categories;

* Personal – intrinsic motives and abilities

* Social – group influence for motivation and enabling of desired behavior

* Structural – incentives or sanctions, and things (systems, physical space, tools)

Give the required change in your business more thought, understand and communicate the why, and create and execute a plan that will allow your organization to successfully implement the required change.

Oh, and get a good nights’ sleep in the bargain.

Article by John Leduc