Trust them with the change...

 |  30 May 2022


Our team was reflecting on conversations we've held with Senior Leaders over the last few years during change programs. Our reflection was on the number of leaders that don't appear to trust their people. 


We spoke about examples of leaders who won't delegate to free up their own time during change. The leaders who complain about their team members' performance and 'resistance' and the leaders who struggle with having 'tough conversations'.


AND... of course, the most common story told was of the leaders who don't talk openly to their people about change because 'they won't understand why we're making the change'.


Almost all at once, our exasperated cry was, "Why do they keep hiring idiots?".


Wait what...? JK…. that's not what we said.


The exasperated cry was actually … "why do they think that their people are idiots?".


I often wonder if the promotion to management also includes a pair of glasses that, when looked through you see everyone as instantly stupid, mainly when introducing change. The people who "won't understand" are the same people you trust to deliver for your customers. They are the people you sat next to as a colleague, talking about how management just needs to do X and Y to fix the problems. Now you're a manager, and they've instantly become stupid?


I'm reminded of the comment made by Mark Twain.  


"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." - Mark Twain


Perhaps it's not that they have gotten stupid. But instead, your perspective has changed.


When you step into a management position, you are now standing on a different street corner than before, you are introduced to new ways of seeing old problems. You view the business from a more holistic mindset. You may even see problems when you didn't before because they affect you differently. EG: the person who was the one that just got on with their job, all of a sudden isn't as ambitious as you think they should be. Doesn't work as hard as you do.

They haven't changed. Your perspective has changed.


What is the solution to this?

  • Option 1 - you can 'get rid' of the people in your team who you think 'don't understand' or are 'resistant to change' and recruit new ones that might (or might not) 'get it'.
  • Option 2 - you can review and grow your leadership skills and help them to understand.

Honestly, option 1 is the easy way out. It's a way of avoiding your part of the problem. Psst - we don't recommend option 1... option 2 is the one that is sustainable in change. 


Option 2 is about creating the space people need to understand the change from their perspectives. It is an opportunity for change leaders to understand more about how their people work and where their strengths and challenges are.


If you want people to understand, here's what you do…


  • Ask them what they need to help them understand/change and then give it to them. 90% of the time it will be stuff like, extra information about the change, or the tools to do their jobs. 
  • Listen to your people's perspectives about the change. You may learn things you didn't consider. 
  • Give them time to make sense of the change for themselves. Once it makes sense to them, they'll change. 


No one is hiring idiots. People are actually pretty smart and can understand most things related to change within a business if you give them the time and information they need. They may surprise you and 'get it' more than you do.


If you are interested in being a leader who is able to get the best from your workforce, please get in touch with SynergyIQ because we are leaders in enabling change and are here to help.


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