Major resistance to change frequently occurs because leadership does not take the time to acknowledge ideas amidst business change. The decision is made and people need to get on board! But, do they? Acknowledging ideas helps cognitive people embrace change. They too need time to process the change so they grasp it. It is difficult for them to support changes they do not fully understand.
Thinkers need time to process change. They may not have an initial strong response until after they have had time to think the change through to its logical conclusions. If a cognitive oriented person did not have any initial questions regarding change, it is a good chance that they will show up with them later.
This is the sixth blog in my series, Building Trust and Embracing Change. In the context of building trust amidst change, some people naturally have a lot of questions. If they cannot connect the dots, it will be more difficult for them to embrace change. This group is critically important to get behind change. They like to synthesize information and will gladly share their findings and opinions. Others view them as thought leaders and value their opinion. It is not uncommon to discover that they have built the trust with fellow employees that leadership envies. Therefore, it is critical to identify these people and get them on board.
Cognitive people usually have something to say and like to be heard. If they are not heard, they will not feel valued. While leadership should not have to babysit people to stay engaged, they should pay attention to those who become quiet or appear detached. One real mistake leadership makes when dealing with cognitive people is the fear that alternative ideas becomes a threat to the plan. This is not necessarily true.
Consider the following reasons why it is good to take time to acknowledge ideas amidst business change.
- Take steps to prevent their verbal ramblings. Cognitive people often have ideas to process. Just because they verbally speak out on a point does not necessarily mean that they buy their own statement. Verbal processing can easily be mistaken for insubordination. Donâ€™t be afraid to interrupt them and ask them if their words are opinions they want to advance or simply verbally processing. Make them put a stake in the proverbial sand rather than allowing them to verbally wonder all over the desert.
- Take time to sit with verbally cognitive people and allow them to express their thoughts to you in private. This gives them the audience they are seeking with leadership and in turn will provide the opportunity for them to get on board in advance. As inferred above, their public support can help others embrace change.
- Take action to address their concerns. This is the highest form of acknowledgment. They often bring helpful perspectives. Be sure to share credit with the whole group. In some cases, their ideas may not be good or there will not be any required action. The action becomes a non-action simply by expressing understanding and appreciation. If they feel passionate about their ideas, you may need to get them to agree to let it go or they may be stepping over the line of insubordination.
Cognitive people need acknowledgement. It is the best way to gain their support for the change and they have real capacity to help other people embrace the change as well. Be careful not to jump to conclusions or read too much into their quest for information and you will gain a committed ally.
What are some additional strategies you find helpful when getting cognitive and thoughtful people to embrace change?