Sustainable Business Change Begins With First Beliefs and then Attitudes
A funny thing happened during a recent facilitation when an entrepreneur who believed that he had changed from his "It's my way or the highway" to "I value your contribution" asked his sales manager who was sitting right next to him the following question: "You have observed my changes to be consistent haven’t you?" The sales manager who was obviously searching for the right words responded: "For the most part I can say yes, but occasionally I still have some apprehensions."
The entrepreneur's non-verbal reaction was seasoned with some disappointment. He believed that his changes should be viewed as concrete and he should no longer be viewed as that rough, gruff, boss. I then asked a couple of questions to bring some additional value to this unexpected exchange. First, I asked the sales manager how long he had been with this company? His response was 7 years. I then asked the entrepreneur when did he change and received the answer "2 years ago." So by doing the math, the sales manager had 5 years of conditioning to be balanced against 2 years of his boss’s changed behavior. The boss looked at me, smiled and said "Thank you."
Change and more importantly the acceptance of change doesn’t happen overnight. The time of the previous conditioning (PC) must be acknowledged and balanced against the time of the new change (NC). A balance between PC and NC needs to be achieved before individuals have "belief" that the NC is sustainable.
During another learning engagement, a small business owner coaching case study was presented in which the individual explained the 47/3 rule. He shared that he spent 47 years doing things the old way and only 3 years with the changed behavior. Since the old behavior had many more years of support, he occasionally fell back into old behaviors. However, the difference now is that he knows what he is doing and quickly chooses (due to a new belief system) to take different action so that he is no longer playing the role of the victim where life is always half empty.
Change does take time contrary to many who wish for the quick fix and for those who say that they can provide the quick fix. HINT: Quick fix is a belief. There is no quick fix for sustainable change. However, by beginning to identify and acknowledge your beliefs you have taken the first step towards sustanable change.