5 proven strategies to help others commit to change

Kris had an important change she wanted to implement with her team. She wanted it to be a success, so before diving in, she thought about the workplace changes she had most readily accepted in her career. Based on that reflection, she found five things she could do as a leader that would allow her to help her team more effectively. Although she didn’t realize it then, Kris was championing change.

Here are the five things she put into practice. Perhaps some of these can work for you.

1. Talk less

Kris decided she had experienced too much one-way change communication in her life. The leaders she worked for talked too much and tried too hard to convince people too soon. Kris outlined the change at a high level before stopping to give people time to respond.

In the conversations that ensued, she reminded herself not to be preachy or defensive, but to listen.

2. Ask more questions

Kris knew she would need to ask more questions. She prepared some to use in her discussions but also resolved to be more curious during these conversations. When noting comments made about the change, she would ask a question to understand their perspective better. These questions would also help them process their thoughts more fully. Ultimately, Kris found the organic follow-up during conversations to be most helpful. Her pre-planned questions often helped jumpstart some of those dialogues.

Tough Talks D

These were some of the questions she found most helpful:

  • What are your questions about the change?
  • What worries you about it?
  • If we implement it, how might it help us?
  • What will happen if we don’t make this change?

When Kris thought about it later, she realized there was nothing magical about any of these questions. The common theme was their simplicity and lack of implied judgment, which she believes is what made them so helpful.

3. Surface their concerns

By resolving to talk less, she discovered she more easily understood their real concerns about the change. The more change was discussed, the more people shared their fears. And once she was aware of their concerns, she was in a better position to acknowledge and ease them. More importantly, by allowing people to talk about their worries, the team saw ways to overcome them. The conversations became more focused on problem-solving and less on complaining about the change or placing blame.

4. Overcome misconceptions

Kris realized that when she slowed down and stopped pushing the change, but tried to understand people’s concerns, some of them were unfounded:

  • They misunderstood some parts of the change.
  • They didn’t fully realize the problems that prompted the change.
  • They thought the change would lead to outcomes or consequences that were unlikely or they could help avoid.

One of her big lessons was that clarity and acceptance take time. Time to let people talk about and process the change helped her as much as it helped the team. Once misconceptions and misunderstandings became apparent, they could be clarified and resolved, leading to a clear and complete vision.

5. Be patient

Kris decided that patience was necessary because so often that wasn’t what she experienced. She realized that when she felt pushed, she sometimes pushed back. She wanted to avoid that experience with her team. While she knew there would be deadlines to meet, she wanted to provide the team with as much time as possible to choose the change themselves, rather than feel pushed toward it. Ultimately, she felt that patience would create a commitment to the change, while pushing might lead to mere compliance. She decided to be more patient in three ways:

  • Give people time to think about the change. Rather than introducing it and immediately asking for their feedback, she would give them time to process it.
  • Let the conversation last longer. She felt if she rushed the meeting to discuss the change, some ideas wouldn’t surface. She also allowed people to chat with her privately outside of the group conversation setting.
  • Allow the group to help each other. Her voice as the leader didn’t need to be the only voice supporting the change. She resolved to let others on the team speak in favor of the change naturally as they became committed to it.

Kevin is the chief potential officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a leadership and learning consulting company helping organizations, teams and individuals reach their potential since 1993, and the cofounder of The Remote Leadership Institute, formed in 2014. Kevin’s specialties include leadership, remote/hybrid work, teams and teamwork, organizational culture, facilitating change, organizational learning and more. He is the bestselling author of several books and hosts The Remarkable Leadership Podcast.