We are facing a time of unprecedented change and complexity. As business leaders, we must respond, and yet up to 70% of organisational change initiatives fail. This is a confronting figure, representing significant wasted financial and human resources.
Are you part of the problem?
Any successful change initiative requires leaders to actively model and communicate the need for and nature of change: What happens when leaders don’t know what they are modelling and communicating in relation to change? What if your below conscious motivators around change are part of the reason for change being unsustainable in your team or organisation?
Each of us has a change profile—how we relate to change—that determines how we think about change (perhaps unconsciously); how we communicate change to others; how we lead change; and how comfortable we respond to change.
What’s your change profile?
Your change profile is made up of below conscious motivational patterns. Diagnosing your change profile comes from understanding which of the three change patterns you unconsciously prefer: Sameness, Evolution or Difference. These change patterns are a subset of motivational patterns or metaprograms. These motivational patterns are the unconscious sorting filters in our mind that determine what we pay attention to in our environment – what we filter into and out of our experience. This sorting function happens outside our conscious awareness and drives how we think, feel and act.
- Sameness:A person with a strong preference for Sameness will prioritise stability, security, routine and predictability by preferring to work with what is known. They will match current experience with previous experience, and will focus on what is the same within their environment. People high in Sameness typically remain in the same role for 10+ years, and will become demotivated in environments of high change.
You might hear them asking: What will stay the same? What are the similarities between our work now and our work two years ago? How do we keep things stable?
- Evolution:A person with a strong preference for Evolution will seek incremental change in their work environment. They are motivated by growth and continual improvement—in manageable increments—over time without disrupting the status quo. People high in Evolution typically remain in a role for 5–7 years.
You might hear them asking: How can we improve this process? What small changes can we make to get a better result? Where can we tweak this system to improve performance?
- Difference:A person with a strong preference for Difference is motivated by frequent and/or significant change in their work environment. A stable or slow-paced environment demotivates them. People high in Difference typically remain in a role for 1–3 years.
You might hear them asking: How could we do this differently? What’s the most innovative approach we could take here? How could we create change here?
Are you speaking a foreign language?
People only tune into change language that motivates them—there’s little point speaking louder in English, if one only speaks Italian.
Research indicates that 20% of the overall population has a preference for Difference, 65% for Evolution, and 5% for Sameness. The remaining 10% have a combination preference. Your communication must reflect all three preferences to be heard by everyone.
When Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at The Wall Street Journal’s Live conference, only people high in Difference were motivated to listen, ‘The industry is at an inflection point for massive change … not just evolutionary change’.
The aged care sector in Australia is undergoing government reforms resulting in significant change. A majority of the sector’s operational workforce has a preference for Sameness, and many people are finding these changes destabilising and demotivating. Leaders with an Evolution mindset are enthusiastically leading incremental change, but facing resistance when they omit telling people what will remain the same.
Speak my language, and I will listen — I may even follow you.
Know and lead from your own change profile
The little-known key to leading change that sticks is to diagnose your change profile and develop flexibility in how you perceive, respond to, and communicate change so you can successfully engage everyone and bring them on the change journey.