A common obstacle faced by CLOs and organizational change facilitators is emotional buy-in from stakeholders.
The problem comes in with the way we introduce change to the people in our organizations: we generally focus on the logic behind the program and the need for change. Many CLOs believe that rational understanding is what people need to carry out change successfully. And they’re partially right. But only partially.
Think back to the last workshop or training experience you facilitated or attended. I’m willing to bet that it was a great initiative, for a great cause, and with flawless logic behind it. I’m also willing to bet that few people maintained the desired behaviors the program intended to instill in them.
The simple reason I’d like to put forward is this: there was nothing in it for them personally.
So, what can you do to help your people find personal meaning in your change program?
Start with Why
Simon Sinek, in his now popular Ted Talk: How great leaders inspire action, describes what he calls the Golden Circle, which is comprised of the Why, the How, and the What. The key takeaway from this talk is that most leaders, organizations and even advertisers explain what they do, and how they do it. But truly influential people first explain why they do what they do.
As Sinek puts it, people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
The same principle applies to organizational change. People are more likely to buy the Why of your initiative than what it is, or how to do it. The reason for this is that to engage people, we need to appeal to them on an emotional level, and the Why does that.
Why should people be personally and emotionally invested in your change program, how will you go about this, and what do you hope to achieve?
Appeal to people’s emotions
The Why should ideally be the ‘What’s in it for me’ statement. People are selfish creatures. We are interested mainly in ourselves, so anything that shows how we can benefit on a personal level will grab our attention.
We need more than a rational understanding of the need to change our behavior – we need an emotional understanding too. When we have an emotional understanding, it becomes personal. We’re not just doing it for our organization, we’re doing it for ourselves. That’s when real personal development takes place.
It doesn’t matter how well executed a program is, if it doesn’t appeal to the learner on a personal and deeply emotional level, they just won’t be that motivated to follow through with the desired behavior. When it comes to changing the way we are, we want to feel like we’re doing it for ourselves.
In what ways, if at all, does your change program appeal to people on an emotional level?
Tap into people’s innate desire to develop themselves
Humanistic psychology is grounded on the assumption that people have an innate desire to develop themselves. But in order to do so, they first need to find what it is that they care about (the Why), and then focus on what they can do (how) to channel their energy into that.
In the same way, L&D practitioners need to keep in mind that their team members want to change, but only in a way that is personally meaningful to them. To do that, they need to:
• Appeal to the emotions of their people (not just their rational understanding)
• Help their people find their own meaning in the change initiative
• Turn that meaning into action
What are you doing to nurture people’s desire for self-development in your organization?
Finding meaning in the digital space
Many professionals have found their personal meaning through one-on-one coaching. But coaching is not always a viable option for large teams across multiple geographies. Digital coaching fills this space perfectly, providing a link between the rational and emotional reasoning that leads to meaningful personal development.
The Cognician platform helps users find personal meaning in change initiatives through reflective questioning – just like having a real coach. Users are given the space to think and reflect on what change means to them, and how they can turn an emotional understanding into an actionable commitment.
Which change initiative in your organization would benefit from digital coaching?
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