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Are you a manager or project manager who has to implement change? Saying how things must be done and expecting everyone to obey is an illusion. Everybody knows that. Different interventions at different levels are needed. You can find out what they are during our Personal Effectiveness in Managing Change training course. Here are three tips to be going along with!

In our complex society, it is not possible to bring about change on your own – you need each other, you have to do it together. As a change manager, one of your tasks is to create solidarity, to move forward together in the direction of the desired change. You cannot do this by only being rational, or with arguments. So how can you do it?

1. Acting at different levels of communication

Imagine an iceberg in water. The part sticking out above the surface is much smaller than what is below. ‘Above water’ communication is rational arguments concerning content and procedure, how you tackle something together, or how you talk about it. ‘Below water’ is where emotional responses and feelings and interpersonal relationships are found. If, as a changer, you are unable to sell your ‘above water’ message, you can make a ‘below water’ intervention. Say something about attitude or approach, or mention a feeling you are experiencing yourself or perceiving from your discussion partner. This will ‘deepen’ the discussion and enable you to steer it in a different direction. The result will be greater mutual understanding.

2. Respond deliberately to key moments in the change curve

Feelings experienced by your discussion partner or partners can be part of the change curve. Usually you, as the changer, are at the end of the process, while others who are also undergoing change are at the start or somewhere in the middle of the process. The sequence of the emotions associated with the change curve is shock, denial, fear, anger, despondency, understanding, acceptance, satisfaction. Changing is a process. If you refer to a person’s emotion, talk and find out more about it, you help them take the next step and it also creates more confidence and a greater willingness to change.

3. Managing based on positions and interests

People often adopt positions when talking to each other. These are ‘above water’. A position is a fixed view – fixed and difficult to change. This means that discussions do not progress beyond an exchange of contradicting arguments. “I think that…” To get away from this, it can be useful to look at the person’s interests (‘below water’). In many cases, the underlying reason behind a position offers scope for finding common ground.

The underlying reason is related to norms and values: “I think it’s important that it is carried out accurately”, or “I would like account to be taken of people’s feelings”, or “I would like us to remain focused on our customers and that we achieve results without any of that internal minutiae”. You then reach a kind of ‘deal’, negotiating between your goal and your common interests. Suppose you have to create a more efficient and smaller team. You could negotiate on the accuracy that is needed in order to carry it out, or on having a strong enough focus on people and discussing and asking how they think it should be done. Or on how, together, you can ensure that sight is not lost of the customers.

With these three tips, you can keep the change process moving towards the desired outcome!

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