Myth: People don’t like change…

If you do a search on LinkedIn you will note the rise in demand for people to apply for positions labelled (in some varied configuration) as “Change Manager”. As of today there were 2047 job openings by this description. Not that long ago the position did not even exist. Someone out there somewhere suggested that people do not like to change, and/or that people are overwhelmed with change – and many are buying in — enough to hire people to become change managers!

Old 1950s bakelite dial telephone isolated on white with clipping path

I think that this perspective may be missing the mark, and the hiring of a change manager may not be the silver bullet that leaders are hoping for. However, all is not lost. The fact is, people change all the time – and they even enjoy it!

How many people do you see walking around with the old “brick” cellular phone held to their ear, or even flip phones for that matter? People sometimes paid to upgrade to the latest model of cell phone before their contracts are even up – before they could have had a free one!

Some, like my wife, enjoy a frequent change of hairstyle and color, others a new pair of shoes, still others a new vehicle every year or two. People buy wide ties, narrow ties, new sport coats and outer jackets – and donate the old ones form someone else to wear. They purchase new appliances and toss perfectly good ones into recycling so that they can have the newest look. People renovate their homes and replace their furniture because they are tired of the old! People change all the time – and enjoy it – in relation to the things that they value!

I wonder if the idea of a change manager really arises out of a perspective that goes something like this: “We want people to do (x) for us and we don’t see that they want to do it. We need to establish capacity (a process and/or personnel) to make this happen.”

Is this not more likely to be manipulation than management? Do we really believe that people won’t feel manipulated and simply disengage or opt out? (Maybe you are an employee and could admit that this is how you feel).

We find the power to change ourselves, and inspire change in others, by coming to understand what we value. Values are decision-making filters, and we need to discover and engage them if we are to choose change.

Here’s the kicker: engaging the discovery will require courage!

Need some hard evidence that values alignment works? Check out these case studies!