Stick with it, says author and guru Ken Blanchard, as he gives some
practical answers on getting the best results when you’re dealing with hard
times and tough people.
During tough economic times, some kind of change in organisations becomes
Unfortunately, because people find change threatening, they tend to focus on
themselves, becoming concerned only about their own security, safety and
wellbeing. Then, if too many people get stuck in the change process itself and
can’t see the bigger plan to move through change effectively, individuals and
organisations face a struggle for survival.
Simply getting rid of people, or allowing them to stagnate, is the easy way
out. Sticking with your people and encouraging them to advance themselves in
the process is inspiring and effective. It is also a wise economic decision
when you consider the cost of training new people from scratch.
A major study at the University of Texas, which involved Blanchard associate
Pat Zigarmi, isolated six stages of concern which people go through during
times of either planned change, or change caused by unexpected events such as
the world is facing now. To help people get through these seasons of change,
leaders should familiarise themselves with these six stages.
The first three are particularly important, too often forgotten by leaders
who initiate change processes by pitching only the benefits and the impact of
the desired change.
1 Information People want to know what’s happening so you need to
over-inform at the beginning of a change effort. Use voicemail, e-mail – any
way possible to tell your people what’s happening. They want to know what you
have in mind. They want any and all information.
2 Personal People are worried about themselves and how the change
effort will impact them. Will they survive? Timely training can help people
move quickly through this stage.
3 Implementation What will happen first second, third, etc? People
need a clear mission to help put strategies into practice.
Now people are ready to hear about the benefits of the change and focus on
the last three concerns that really come to the fore in tough times!
4 Impact Is the effort worth it? Will the change make a real
difference? This is where people start selling themselves on the benefits of the
5 Collaboration Who else should be involved? How can we work with
others to make this new plan successful? Again, people only think about
collaboration after they have taken care of other things.
6 Refinement How can we make the change even better? Can we improve
on the original idea? At this point, people with refinement concerns have
bought into the change and are focused on continuous improvement.
You’re much better off training your people in new skills during tough times
because it moves people through the six stages of concern more effectively.
Without learning new skills and tasks during times of change, people tend to
turn inward and get stuck in the personal concern stage.
Also, the positive sense of morale and loyalty you create when you invest in
your people is absolutely incredible. If everybody is wondering when they’re
going to get their P45, nobody is going to be effectively focused on the key
values and strategies that drive your business forward.
One of the most creative and productive ways you can move people past their
personal concerns is to say, "We’re going to hang with you because you are
part of the group that got us to where we are today. If we have to redeploy
you, we’ll give you the training you need to contribute to the bottom line more
We said in our company, "You might not have the same job you had
before, you might not have the same responsibilities you had before, but we’re
going to hang with you because you are part of the group that brought us to the
party. We’re going to train you in an area where you can contribute to the
bottom line more effectively."
Organisations that are going to be successful during tough times are those
that are willing to keep investing in their people, that keep moving forward
and inventing new ways to deal with the various stages of concern.
Make these challenging times special. Don’t look back on them with regret.
Step out in faith and redefine the bottom line in your organisation by valuing
the people who brought you to "the dance". After all, you’re only as
good as your people.