You are responsible for leading a change management project and you believe in that change. Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University describes this belief as a Growth mindset.
Contrary to your Growth Mindset, there are people with a Fixed Mindset who don’t believe in the change you wish to implement and are surreptitiously second-guessing and undermining everything you are trying to accomplish.
So, Growth mindsets and Fixed mindsets are pulling in opposite directions and the success of a change project is unachievable.
More often than not, the Fixed mindsets doesn’t arise from any rational analysis of the change project. It comes from anxiety about careers, budgets and who is going to be affected. It’s the lack of understanding regarding what the change involves that churns the ocean of negativity. This group becomes even more dangerous when the change is approved and beginning to be implemented because that is when teething issues arise and these teething issues add momentum to the negativity.
So, What should you do?
Acknowledge the negativity don’t ignore it. There is a corporate belief that if you ignore a problem for long enough it will go away. That is the worst thing you can do.
If a rumour is not true, instead of ignoring or trying to suppress it demonstrate that it’s not true.
For example at an IBM laptop factory, stories circulated among blue collar workers about facility managers, who were accused of not doing any real work, being overpaid and having no idea what it was like to work on a manufacturing line. But an additional story was introduced to the mix. One day a new site director turned up in a white coat, unannounced and unaccompanied, and sat on the factory line with the workers. In response someone asked him,
“ Why do you earn so much more than me?” His simple reply, “ If you screw up badly, you lose your job. If I screw up badly, 3000 people lose their jobs.”
Although this is not a story in the traditional sense it’s a demonstration of the responsibility the manager has and a justification of why he/she is paid more. This can be termed as a classic example of change management storytelling
To your surprise you may find some rumors are true. In this case admit the mistake and talk about what you are going to do to ensure it doesn’t recur. For example, if people are talking about how the last employee engagement plan only lasted 2 months. You address it this way
“ Yes, we agree that the last employee engagement plan only lasted 2 months and we are sorry about that but this time to make sure this doesn’t recur we have employed a person solely to look after the employee engagement
In essence, your change project will never be successful if you don’t convert the fixed mindset in to a growth mindset. The fixed mindset will not change until you demonstrate to it that what they are thinking is not true. Once demonstrated, the synergy of growth mindsets contribute to the success of the change project.
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