Change is about head, heart and soul. Manage all or fail.

by Judith E. Glaser and Joe Bonito

It’s only human. Change brings about fear because our brains are hardwired to think we’ll fear of changelose: lose our position, our social status, our hard work. But, leaders who know this very common emotion can facilitate change and bring employees and managers into the process of  change.

Here are three ways to successfully make change happen. (Click here to see the first way to make change occur.)

Scar 2: Underestimate the amount of conversations needed. Don’t underestimate the time required for needed dialogue about change. When stressed, people’s mental acuity and processing circuitry closes down. Fearful of the future impact of change, people listen for how change will affect them. Each person is having his or her internal dialogue, hypothesizing what these changes might be. Usually they fear loss instead of anticipating gain.

Solution 2: Changing mindsets. Create forums where people can have open, candid conversations to learn their place in the emerging social order. Transparency and openness transforms fear into constructive strategies for success. Putting the fears on the table and facilitating open conversations about what’s in it for them as well as why and how change will take place, helps people shift from loss to gain, and from fear to hope.

Scar 3: Change is head, heart and soul. If we give employees the facts, and explain why change needs to take place, they will “buy into the change,” right? But we know from our work with clients that people are emotional during change, and logical facts fail to speak to the limbic brain, which is the social emotional brain. We overestimate logic and underestimate the power of tapping into the emotions through the use of telling stories.

Solution 3: Storytelling. A better alternative is to use storytelling and narrative to constructively engage people. Storytelling triggers the Head, Heart and Soul and causes us to bond. Oxytoxin is a hormone that causes us to bond with others in times of stress and change. Positive, uplifting storytelling actually increases the levels of oxytocin, which in turn creates uplifting and positive outcomes. The fearful “I’s” become “WE’s.” When this happens, a group becomes a strong team of individuals poised to work together to create change.

Scar 4: Speed of change. Often we want change to happen fast. We have little patience in living through change, and instead move quickly into convergent decision-making about what to change and how. We’ve each been part of many Change Management programs that end in a new set of policies disseminated with the belief that.. “zapp” the culture will change or “shapeshift” into something new overnight.

Solution 4: Navigational communication. Create conversational practices where people can co-create the future together. This is not a quick fix, policy, lecture, or tell-sell-yell approach. This is about navigating with others from many perspectives to arrive at practices and rituals that “we” all can embrace.

Change Leaders who become Change Warriors learn to create threat-free conversational space for change. They help people find their place in the change process, enabling everyone to join together to shape the future.

Judith GlaserJudith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; Author of 4 Best Selling books including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary

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