Implementing Change and Keeping The Peace

I’ll start with an image: construction projects often used to be accompanied by signs like, “Pardon Our Dust.” In residential areas, a plate of cookies or a bowl of flowers was sent to a neighbor inconvenienced by the noise, dirt and construction vehicles. Acknowledgement through such small gestures could go a long way to maintaining patience, good relations, and customers.

Today the word “change” is almost over-used. From political campaigns to corporate messages to the fast pace of real estate development we are reminded (as though we missed the message) that things undergo change constantly. Mourn or cheer, it is inevitable we are told, and we should just hold on - it is for the best. Sometimes it is, even if difficult to accept.

But assuming everyone will see it that way and remain our friends, clients or supporters is an unnecessary error. Overlooking transition (the process of change implementation) can lead to poor communications, misunderstandings at best, hurt feelings, and even unnecessary, costly consequences.

To be an effective “change agent,” and maximize reaching change goals rather than sabotaging them, I suggest that you or your client pay close attention to the art of implementing change with respect for those who are expected to absorb it. Evaluating the direction and impact of change (a kind of accountability) should be part and parcel of the transition process if you want people to believe in the goals of making changes. This may sound like one more step or one more thing to worry about. But you might be pleasantly surprised at the benefits returned from effective and considerate transitions.

So, if you are bringing in that proverbial bulldozer for a “tear down,” or cutting down the old cherry tree that you share with your neighbor, perhaps you will first carry over that plate of cookies with a smile. It may seem an obsolete courtesy but it is a powerful one.

Jeanne Franklin