Charlie explained “we need to structurally reduce our costs in order to compete. The business is not yet sufficiently serious about this so I’m not going to start doing what I need to do”.
In other words… We have a major problem. People are feeling at risk and defensive, including me. Procrastinating feels best, even though it will only delay and increase the eventual pain. Others’ inactivity excuses my own.
Feelings are stronger than thoughts for creating action is the core challenge of all transformation projects, yet few businesses really understand how to manage this. For this I particularly recommend reviewing the scientific research by Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente. They have identified a 6-stage change process that people go through, and proven techniques to move people along. By explaining the visible symptoms commonly experienced in businesses going through change, it also gives people comfort and clarity.
Charlie will probably be less interested in what stage he is in, than understanding why things are happening around him in the way that they are, and what to do about it. For Charlie’s company however, knowing how many people are in each stage, and the speed of their progress, is vital to dimension the challenge and remedies.
For the record, Charlie is in stage 2 “contemplation”. It’s good for him that he has already moved on from stage 1 “pre-contemplation”. Unaided it is likely to take him many months to move onto stage 3 “preparation” which is still not yet at the “action” stage (4). His Group CEO is already there and impatient to move into stages 5 and 6! As Charlie is a recently recruited and enthusiastic senior manager, his company clearly has some work to do.
If you are in the “contemplation” stage, like Charlie, then:
- Give yourself permission to change and identify your choices
- Focus on the solution not the problem
- Think more about the future than the past
This will be pretty difficult on your own, so grab a trusted colleague and take them out for a coffee chat. Or if you get really stuck schedule a call with me. At $2.50 per minute it’s priced more like a cab ride than a coffee, and it could empower you for the next stage of your career.
*not his real name.