Getting Other People to Change

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"I get by with a little help from my friends. " The words wafted out of my car radio as I was listening to golden oldies.

It got me thinking about what we really need as we're challenged to change the way we work and how we work together.

It's what we need when we're making changes, expecting ourselves and others to be more than what we have been, expecting our employees to respond. A little help from our friends.

Changing how we do work is quicker and more effective when we work together to make change happen.

Use these five steps when you need to change. . . or need to ask someone else to change:

1. Get the big picture. George Bush, the father, discounted even the idea of having a vision. But you need to know what will be different after the change. Exactly what are you trying to do, to change? What will be different? What will the “new world order" look like? If you don't know, or can't describe what you want, you won't be able to get others to share your vision, or go along with your plans.

2. Start sooner rather than later. People hate surprises when it comes to their jobs, their responsibilities and what they're being held accountable for. By starting sooner, including others in the planning and the decision making, you'll avert lots of hassles and uncooperative behavior later. Ask for input, don't tell others what they have to do. You'll just increase their resistance.

3. Listen. . . at least twice as much as you talk. For those of us with big control issues. . . this is really hard. We know better than anyone else the best way things should be done. So we get into telling, and then are surprised when folks don't do what we tell them to do. Just because it works great for you, doesn't mean it will for others. More often than not, the process experts are the front line folks. Listen to their input, their experiences. Even if later you don't incorporate everything they said, they'll be more likely to cooperate because they've been heard.

4. Keep the focus on what's right not who's right. Even the lowest person on the totem pole, or your least favorite employee, can come up with super ideas. Beware of letting your personal preferences or feelings about people cloud your judgment of their ideas. Don't sacrifice your project, and your reputation, by choosing the person rather than the solution.

5. Be visible. Paradoxically this is as important as listening. There comes a time when the person in charge (read manager) has to make a decision, stick the stake in the ground and lead the charge. If you've done your work up to this point: setting the vision, starting early and listening to all the constituencies, people will be ready to come to a decision and take action. The buck stops here. . . at your desk. You're the manager. You must take charge and be responsible for making things happen.

Pat Wiklund is known as the One-Person Business Turnaround Specialist. She works with professional services business owners so they can make more money and get more personal satisfaction from their work. Start taking charge of your business and your life with her TakingCharge mini ecourse from her latest book, Taking Charge When You’re Not in Control by sending a blank email to

Contact Pat at


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