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Implementing Change – Phase 6 – Reinforce New Behaviours


Doing something new means you’ll do it wrong at first. You’ll do it wrong until you learn how to do it right. This is period of low morale for most people.

There’s a sense that despite all the effort being invested, very little progress is being made. Being told you’re making progress motivates you. Even if it’s only a matter of learning what doesn’t work, that’s still an important form of progress.

Reward All Successes

We all like to know our efforts in any endeavor are being rewarded with progress towards a goal. During the first stages of change, when we are learning to do new things, there is very little progress. Watch someone learn a new system and you will see them make error after error after error. At the bottom of the learning curve, progress comes slowly. At the bottom of the learning curve we make very few correct choices and many errors.

 Reward All Attempts… and Failures.

During change, management needs to change their behavior from rewarding only ‘success’ to rewarding all attempts at progress. People need to hear their attempts to learn the new way of doing things are seen and appreciated.

Reward All Questions

When people ask questions during change, they are demonstrating involvement in the change process by seeking out additional information. Take the time, make the time, to answer those questions, no matter how busy you are. It does not take many instances of management not being around to answer questions, for people to get the message that management does not really care about the successful implementation of the change. Even, if that was not the message you intended to communicate.

Acknowledge those who Resist!

Sometimes the question will be ‘Why is this change necessary?’ This is NOT an indication of a bad attitude, nor is it an indicator of someone who is out to scuttle the change. The question ‘Why is this change necessary?’ is a legitimate question, by someone who is protective of the status quo they’ve already invested in. Do not mistake natural, normal, healthy resistance, as a subversive attempt to destroy what you’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes, a question is just a question.

Don’t Ignore those in Denial.

Denial can be defined as ‘the continued use of solutions, once appropriate to the task, no longer useful due to the introduction of the foreign element.’ It takes time for people to change old habits. Punishing people, because they learned the old lessons well, is not exactly a compelling incentive for them to learn new ones.

Editor’s note: We will be showcasing each phase of Peter de Jager’s methodology in weekly posts. Click here for phase 1phase 2, phase 3phase 4, and phase 5.
Check back every week to read the next phase.

 © 2015 Peter de Jager – Reprinted with Permission

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