In the last few weeks many organizations had to deal with changes. We have asked our clients which topics are interesting and important for managers in this context. In the process, we have come across an exciting phenomenon. 

There are hardly any managers left who say: “Change does not concern me. “For a rather small group, the changes are seen as an exciting challenge – like a journey that you start without a specific destination. Most managers see change more or less difficult because it has somehow become permanent. 

The most frequent questions we have been asked on this topic are about leadership:  

  • How do I convince my employees to support a change? 
  • How do I motivate them to be constructive and not to constantly resist? 
  • What do I have to communicate and when so that the pain phase is as short as possible for employees and management? 
  • What can I do to have employees follow me? 

What is so difficult to manage change well? 

In change situations, managers want employees who listen to the messages they are given, deal with them constructively and “go along” with them. Unfortunately, when the time comes, most people experience exactly the opposite: 

Either people do not react at all to the new information or they immediately go into active or passive resistance. Some go into inner emigration, only very few accept the new ideas enthusiastically and try to implement them immediately or perhaps even push them further. But even with this small group, difficulties are pre-programmed if they overshoot the goals that the leadership has set for themselves.  

Why do people react so differently to change? 

Whether I like to do something new because something new appeals to me, or cling to the old, by all means, depends on my personal development and attitude and on my personal drivers.  

One thing is always clear – the status quo must be left behind. Only when I have understood why I have to leave, what the change is for, and what the vision of the goal is, will I perhaps join in. What do managers have to deal with most often? 

Dominance: 
People who want to live out their dominance often show a certain territorial behaviour. If it is clear that I have to give up my “old territory” and it is not yet clear what my new one looks like, I will see the new one as a threat and fight it.  

It could also be that I am afraid of losing my autonomy through change. This can also lead to strong defensive reactions. 

Balance:  
If clear rules and precisely defined processes are important to me and suddenly the “oiled machine” is no longer there, it is very dangerous for balance people; no safety, no rules for stopping, everything is new, unfamiliar and also bumpy.  

As long as I don’t have the certainty that nothing will happen to me even on unknown terrain, I will stay where I am. At least there I know my way around. Only if it gets very uncomfortable at the old place or the manager takes responsibility for my actions, I will move. Slowly. Very slowly. Balance people will only feel comfortable in a new environment when the new rules are implemented, and they know exactly what they are allowed to do and what they cannot do.  

Equilibrum 
If a person is marked by Equilibrum, there can never be enough change. However, the driving force is not to achieve something, but change is simply part of it. Mostly stimulant people are over-motivated in new situations and tend to want too much, usually at the same time. 

Incidentally, managers are not spared from these three patterns of behaviour either. 

This means that in change situations, the employees are the decisive success factor. On the one hand, it is about integrating employees into a change as early as possible. No matter whether the change can be planned or whether it is a journey into unknown territory – only if people consider the change to be sensible and necessary will they go along with it. More or less voluntarily and with more or less enthusiasm.  

In these situations, managers have the task of finding out what motivates their employees to change and to set the right interventions for each individual.  

A few examples: 
If it is about the own territory (dominance), the manager should develop a scenario with the employee, how a future solution could look like, so that it becomes plastic enough for the employee, that it is interesting and brings movement. 

When it comes to safety (balance), the employee should be relieved of the fear of being held responsible for mistakes that will inevitably happen. Training courses and learning rooms ensure that employees are familiar with the new. The manager does not stand “behind” his team, but makes “the wall” in front of his employees. 

If it is about involving people who are anyway change-affine (stimulant), this means for the manager to give a direction so that these employees can focus their energy, and perhaps with their positive attitude towards change take others who are afraid of it with them.  

This is no easy task for managers. Above all, it requires them to deal well with their own fears and anxieties and to approach their own people empathically.