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Street Smarts for Change Management

3 Process Change Tactics to Trigger Action

Contributor: Jeff Cole
Posted: 09/08/2016

3 process

You and your team have slaved through a grueling several months designing a process improvement. It’s now Monday morning, time to start a rollout. How the heck are you going to get everyone to begin following the new process rules?   

Granted, it’s a little late in the timeline to just now be thinking about that, but don’t worry, there are a couple tactics you can use. Whether you are rolling out a change to 5 people or 50,000, remember that you need each person to individually commit to this change. Here are three tips to help get people to take action on a personal level.

1)    The Micro-Commitment Tip

By now, you grasp the concept that at the end of any training, presentation or memo, there should be what marketers term a “Call to Action”. Think of those “Buy Now” buttons you see on the internet. You may not be selling products but you are in sales – you are selling a new way of doing things and you want your audience to mentally click that “Change Now” button.   

One tool you can use is called a Micro-Commitment – a non-threatening, simple, immediate action that people can take that sets the ball in motion and helps build momentum. This can take several forms.   You might hand out a little card or have a page in you handouts with a simple statement similar to this:   I _____________ promise myself to use what I just learned in the following way ______________.   and include a signature line and date. Build time into the session for them to do this before they leave. The simple act of doing this makes any call to action more powerful as people don’t want to break promises to themselves. If you have an online course or email, include a button: By clicking the button below I commit to using what I have learned starting this week.  (And have that button lead to some positive reward or congratulations message).

2)     The Make an Appointment Tip

Many people procrastinate – the whole objects at rest tend to stay at rest notion. Rather than leave your audience with an open ended call to action -  “go ahead and view the online training (or download the software, etc.)  whenever you can” – make an appointment with them.  You will experience much better follow-through,  especially if the appointment is sooner rather than later. One study that author James Clear cites is a company encouraging employees to get flu shots.  For the “A” group they sent a note out – you should get flu shots - call this number to get an appointment.   For the “B” group they said – you should get flu shots – your appointment is on Oct 1 at 3 pm – call this number if you have to change that.     The “B” group had a 12% better follow-through.   

3)     The “Shrinking the Change” Tip

If people have multiple things they need to change or do to engage in your new process, it can feel overwhelming to them.    During your initial session with them, can you actually accomplish some of those tasks to kickstart the effort and build momentum? If they leave understanding that they have already started the change path and made progress, it leads to better follow-through. In their minds the change steps required have shrunk and emotionally they feel good about the progress they already have made. Author Jonathan Haidt cites one such example of a car wash that gave out loyalty punch cards with circles on them – each time you get a wash, they punch a hole in one circle.  All the circles punched and you get a free wash. In the “A” group they gave out the cards with 8 pristine circles. In the “B” group they gave out cards with 10 circles on them, and said “I’m going to get you started” and punched 2 of the circles.  Same amount of work, but the B group felt the progress.   The results?  The “A” group had 19% follow-through while the “B” group had a 34% follow-through.

There you have it – let me know how these tips work for you! Now, if you’ll excuse me, my wife is reminding me of the appointment she made for me to mow our lawn…

Contributor: Jeff Cole