Change for Progress

Four tips that will help relay it

By Greta Schulz

Recently, I was at a governmental affairs meeting in West Palm Beach. The discussion was about changes in the city: transportation, creating local clusters, more biking opportunities and so forth. 

Some people at the meeting were part of the original committee that put this together. Of course, they all were behind the ideas brought forth. But others were hearing some of these ideas for the first time and, frankly, most were pooh-poohing them. That’s human nature.

Opening yourself to new ideas—good or bad—is all a part of getting comfortable. Most people aren’t totally comfortable with new ideas, especially if they’re radical ideas.

What does this mean for business leaders? Since the commonly cited definition of insanity entails doing something repeatedly and expecting different results, how do we do something fresh and get our team on board with it?

Getting people to engage in ideas and conversation is one of the best ways to accomplish change.  No one likes to be dictated to, and being told that something will change—even though that’s often our responsibility as leaders.

Using brainstorming techniques to present an issue, and allowing the group to share ideas and responses without judgment, often will illicit new ideas as well as allow you to present yours successfully.

Some ideas:

• Relay the backstory: Why are you looking to make this change? Talk about the reasons for the change, not how you want to do it just yet. When people understand the whys, they tend to be more open to the hows.

• Have patience: Leaders tend to rush to answers without allowing others to get there organically. Most leaders often are open to new, innovative ideas, but others aren’t necessarily that way.  Ask your people good questions to get them to open up, talk about solutions, and learn the whys of their ideas as well as opposed to just pushing yours.

• Be open: If you are open to other ideas and not stuck on your own, often you will find a better one in front of you. Be open to that and don’t assume yours is always the best.

• Summarize and review: That lets your people know they’ve been heard. It is important to go into a brainstorming session with an idea as well as an open mind. Make sure everyone’s participation counts. Review all ideas once they have been given. You will have more acceptance from your people when they feel part of the change process, not ordered to implement it.

• Remember: Most people don’t like change, at least at the beginning. Approach it properly, and you will have a better chance of having agreement rather than a mutiny. ♦

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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