Why Asking Someone to Change How They Work May Not Be as Simple as You Think

It happens all the time in work environments. The organization wants or needs to change – the way it works, delivers service, makes its products, is organized. Often this point is missed: change is not just about the mechanics of what is to be changed, it is about the people. People make up and deliver our systems and processes. Most people say they don’t mind change, but they don’t like being changed. Even when it “makes sense”. Because “makes sense” depends on your perspective.

Anais Nin - We don't see things as they are

When we are looking for efficiencies at work, we are often asking someone – or several someones – to change the way they work. To take on new responsibilities or to give up part of your role. It seems to make sense in the grand scheme of things. It is integral to the change working. If we are leading the change or innovation, when we meet resistance we often don’t understand why. What we are asking often seems like a simple request.

conversation-one-on-oneThe challenge we meet is that many of us identify with our role. It forms part of our identity. We think we are simply asking people to change the way they work when we might actually be challenging the way they see themselves. We might be challenging their very sense of identity. And when we feel our identity is being challenged or threatened, psychological research tells us that we respond as if our very life is being threatened. Instead of being open to change, we dig in our heels and overtly or covertly resist being changed. We become more attached to our role or our identity.

Worldview Intelligence offers personal explorations that help us understand our own worldview, where it comes from, what influences it, what values and beliefs are fundamental to who we are. It illuminates typical responsesingrained human patterns, of how we respond to challenges, how we filter information in and out, how our sense of identity shapes our responses, how we become entrenched in our point of view when we feel compelled to defend it. When we can bring curiosity to the exploration we become aware of what is important and why and then we can become conscious of the choices we are making. The very exploration opens up the possibility for each of us to expand our own worldview and be more open to possibility.

For those of us who are responsible for leading change or asking our people to change, understanding that simple requests might have deeper implications allows us to think about how we approach another person or whole department, their role, their work and what is needed to bring about the changes that we need or want rather than becoming frustrated or combative which only serves to make us less effective in our leadership.