YOU have a brilliant idea for your company that will increase revenue and create more profits.
There is only one problem.
The employees who have to implement the idea are not buying into your vision, so it is not going anywhere.
How can you get them to change their opinion and embrace your great idea?
The attitude bell curve
A useful strategy for managing change is to assume that employee attitudes adhere to a standard, or bell curve, distribution.
A small group of employees are highly constructive, deeply committed to the organisation and inherently supportive of the management's change initiatives.
Another small group is highly disruptive, deeply alienated from the organisation and inherently resistant to the management's change efforts.
Most employees are more or less neutral and must be convinced about the merits of any proposed change.
A good yardstick is to assume that 15 per cent of the population are supportive, 15 per cent resistant and 70 per cent neutral.
Unfortunately, the resistant minority is often both vocal and aggressive.
Most employees know who the whiners and malcontents are, and carefully watch how the management deals with them.
If, as frequently happens, the resistant minority is able to distract or delay the management's efforts to implement change, the neutral majority concludes that the management was not serious about the change, or even worse, that the vocal minority was right.
The more the management caters to the resisters, the more this group wields a virtual veto on progress.
This is true because the resisters' objections are usually not about the merits of any change, but a function of their alienation from the organisation.
The key to change management is to ignore both the supportive 15 per cent (they don't need convincing) and resistant 15 per cent (they can't be convinced), and concentrate on the neutral 70 per cent.
If the broad middle of the population moves to the right on the attitude bell curve, change happens. That segment will move to the right if it sees that you are committed to the change and are no longer allowing the resisters to thwart you.
What happens when the resisters see everyone else moving away from their position?
For some, the isolation becomes too uncomfortable and they join the majority of the employees in implementing the changes.
For others, the realisation that they have lost their power causes them to leave, leaving both them and the company better off.
Why is this simple strategy not used more often?
It often comes down to the need for mental toughness from the senior leadership in the organisation.
Mental toughness is the ability to maintain your interior focus, relaxation, determination and confidence in the face of extreme external stress that should, by all rights, make you fail.
It is about performing at your peak under pressure.
These three tenets are at the crux of mental toughness:
* Exerting your focus where the impact is greatest;
* Attempting to influence only the things over which you have full or limited control; and
* Letting go of the things you cannot control.
Here are some tips for the chief executive officer, president, executive or business owner who wants to successfully manage a company-wide change initiative:
1. Be mentally tough. Show determined leadership and persevere under the most stressful resistance. Demonstrate that, in your world, the change initiative is a done deal.
2. Don't create more resistance than is naturally present by attempting to fight or control every aspect of your change initiative.
3. Don't take the resistance personally. Realise that the laws of the corporate jungle are operating and you can't fight human nature.
4. Handle the stress of the change process in admirable fashion, setting the standard for others to emulate.
Be a savvy business leader who understands how change "really" operates at organisational-intrapersonal levels, and manage that change by leveraging on your mental toughness as a business asset.