Way back in the day when I was just an aspiring Guru—mid-November, to be precise, I promised that I had more to say on change, and, boy, do I ever. In fact, as someone who enjoys blogging, I have quite a lot to say on a lot of things. It only takes a comment on twitter, someone else’s blog, at a meeting, at lunch, or wherever for me to drag out my soapbox—tucked neatly away with my laptop bag for portability—and hop on. (Stand back! Hand gestures, fast talking and wild ideas usually follow, especially if I’m recently caffeinated.)
As an evangelist of social media and collaborative tools, at times I have found myself discouraged at how slowly others embrace change. They, in turn, have been equally put off by the likes of me. Eventually our opposing viewpoints would get us nowhere. Does this sound like you? Feeling discouraged?
Here are a few things that have helped me make progress in a change-averse environment:
- Criticize the process, not the people. It’s easy to confuse the people with the problem or process. Get to know the people involve. Respect them. (A good friend who used to work for me was the perfect example of how we take our colleagues for granted. In his memory, I recommit myself to respecting my fellow coworkers every time I read it, get a comment, or get an email about it. Please read and consider what you can do.)
- Give people a purpose. We’re a culture of people who define ourselves by what we do. What you are proposing may save a lot of effort, but that effort is being done by a person. To the person doing the job, you have just implied—whether intentionally or unintentionally—that his/her efforts are unnecessary. Instead, try involving the people concerned in your plan or find a new role for them to fill.
- It’s not you; it’s me. It takes two to disagree. If you are at an impasse, consider how you might be making your work personal. Are you refusing to compromise on something? Can you settle for small victories? Can you sacrifice taking personal credit by enlisting the help of your social network? You can’t use the same tactics with the same people indefinitely expect change. Something has to give, and if your cause is important enough, perhaps you should let that something be you.