Imposing Change

If you are like me, you are constantly looking for ways to improve your business. If you are like me, you often come up with some change that you are convinced will make your business better. And if you are like me, you announce the change with great fanfare only to have it fall flat on its face it a short time.

It took me a long time to realize why this happened. Despite the best of intentions, I wasn’t eliminating frustrations. I was simply creating new ones by imposing change on people who didn’t want change.

Most people are resistant to change. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” We will often tolerate situations that we don’t like rather than take the risk of change.

The known is comfortable. The unknown is scary. We can learn to adapt to the known. The unknown presents us with uncertainty.

When we impose changes on our employees, we are forcing them into an uncomfortable situation. We are demanding that they accept uncertainty. No matter how valid and potentially beneficial the change, we will experience resistance to the change. We are frustrating our employees.

People resist change that they do not understand. But explaining the potential benefits does not necessarily give them understanding. That’s only one part of change. If we really want buy-in, then we must address all four quadrants of change.

  1. The benefits of change
  2. The pain of change
  3. The benefits of the status quo
  4. The pain of the status quo

The failure to address all four quadrants is one of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when trying to improve their business.

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