Brain-Savvy Leaders Foster ACE

Ace <3

In order to grow, your organization must change.

Organizations that refuse to move become stagnate. They become trapped, treading water through a set of regular routines while getting nowhere.

Without lasting change, organizations become dull, sluggish and deteriorate. They eventually die, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. Unfortunately, the majority of organizational change fails, misses the mark or makes things worse says author Mick Cope.

The Leadership Change Myth

Many leaders mistakenly believe that they can create organizational change. They assume that people will follow their lead.

Giving people sufficient facts of why they need to change rarely works. The traditional telling-approach usually fails.

Leadership and change thinker Alan Deutschman says the scientific odds are nine to one, against you, that you and your team will change. Too often, we put our trust into three misconceptions about change. We trust facts, fear and force to create change says Deutschman.

With the odds stacked against us, we’ve got to create a different change strategy that works.

ACE-A Change Strategy That Sticks

Smart, brain-savvy leaders use neuroscience insight to replace ineffective change management systems. They foster ACE-a sticky change management strategy. Hat tips to neuroleader Dr. Charles Stone.

A – Appreciate Why The Brain Opposes Change

Brain-savvy leaders understand that any change requires that individuals change first before an organization can change. Unless those on your team personally embrace change at some level, your organizational change won’t last.

Neuroscience and cognitive psychology help us understand the natural biology of why our brains resist change. Once we understand these hidden processes, then we can design effective change strategies that align with our brain’s natural systems.

Read more in the next post on why our brain opposes change.

C – Create A Brain-Friendly Change Buy-in Plan

Sure the details of the change are important. Equally important are the plans we develop to bring others along with the change. We’ve got to create change management plans that encourage and empower others.

The more brain-friendly insights and awareness you can incorporate into your change management buy-in plan, the better you can prepare your team to successfully navigate change.

E – Engage Brain-Friendly Messaging

Create an effective change management communication plan that addresses why our brains avoid change and how to empower them to engage in change. Communicate these before, during and after your change management strategy. Communicate more frequently than you think you’ll need. You’ve spent more time thinking about these changes than your team, so give them adequate time.

1. Approach Focused Or Avoidance Focused Messaging

Frame these changes with the audience in mind. Changes can be framed in one of two ways: approach focused or avoidance focused.

Approach focused framing says “We need to do this change so that we can have this benefit.” The motivation is to get a reward or experience a benefit.

Avoidance focused framing says “We need to do this change so that we can avoid this bad thing.” The motivation is to feel relief from avoiding something bad.

2. Instructional Messaging Or Motivational Messaging

You also want to frame your messaging with motivational or instructional messaging.

Instructional messaging addresses the how of the change.

Motivational messaging addresses the why of the change.

Our brains can’t be in both the how and the why at the same time. And our brains prefer to know the why before the what/how.

So we’ve got to spend adequate time communicating both the why and what/how. Some of our team will need more instructional and some will need more motivational.

Sources: Authors Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. Charles Stone, Dr. Al H Ringleb & Dr. David Rock

Why don’t facts, fear or force work effectively for organizational change management strategies? What keeps you from making changes?

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  1. The ACE approach is certainly the way to go and I have used some degree of it in my career. Curious Jeff. Did the research indicate whether the required percentage of instructional versus motivational messaging differs based on the generation breakdown of the team? (i.e. Baby Boomers vs Generation X vs The Millennials). I would think it would.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for reading and responding. The research shows that the percentage of instructional versus motivational messaging actually has to do with the a team member’s job tasks and whether they are a logistics or strategic thinker. It crosses all generations and hits squarely of “What does this change mean to me?”

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