Successful change management: Messaging for the head & heart
Imagine a campaign asking for donations that tells you X% of children in the US go to bed hungry plus other bland statistics. Then asks you to please donate. How compelled are you to donate?
Now imagine a campaign that shows you the faces of 10 children who regularly go to bed hungry plus has quotes from the children how it makes them feel. This is followed by stats of how these kids are affected in school and life by going to bed hungry. The campaign closes with a story from a parent of the child and how they feel when they get support from donations. Are you more compelled to donate? Most would be because this ad has appealed to both their head and their heart.
Create a “Why” for Organizational Change
The same head and heart framing is necessary when asking employees to be a part of an organizational change. If you simply give your employees a bunch of numbers on why they “have to” change, you will likely face resistance. If you tell a compelling story about why this change should happen and how it can be important for each individual employee plus the organization, you will start to see the walls break down. Your employees will begin feeling like they “want to” and “get to” be a part of the change.
Why do we often fight change? Change doesn’t come easily to most people. It’s often forced on employees with little or no explanation of why we need to change. Sometimes they feel like just another faceless number being dragged along behind the change.
Would they still fight change if they felt like a valued person who could bring their own passion and ideas on how to make the change a reality? What if company leaders created a compelling “why” for the change backed up with data that compelled your logical, reasonable side and then also show you a video that pulled at your heart strings? Anyone would be less likely to fight change. Taking into consideration what it would take for employees to go from fighting to whole-heartily supporting change will make a huge difference.
The Head & Heart: A Winning Combination
Organizational change needs to manage more than just processes and procedures. It needs to manage the behavior and feelings of individuals impacted by the change as well. Pay attention to both external and internal forces in your change management plan. External forces are the factors affecting what needs to change. Internal forces are centered around how the change will impact individuals and make them feel. By appealing to the heart, you can combat internal factors and inspire real change. Speaking to the head can back up the heart message to make the change stick long-term.
Consider the phenomenon of reality television singing competitions. If you’ve ever voted for a contestant on one of these shows, what compelled you pick-up the phone, send a text, or click a box on a website? Was it that your head told you that person sang the song technically perfect? Or was it their personality and how the way they sang the song made you feel? Did they touch your heart? The answer if probably a mix of all the above. Your head said, this person has a voice that I would like to listen to more. Your heart said, that made me feel something (happy, sad, etc.).
You needed a mix of a message to your head and your heart to make the decision to act. This is making a behavior change. If enough individuals make the same behavior change, then a movement (or large organizational change) will take place.
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