January 20

Change Management Lesson #1: Don’t Tell Them What to Do


I would like to start the New Year with a series around the dos and don’ts of Change Management. Today I start with a Don’t.
As a little girl I lived in Paris in the 7ème arrondissement, close to the Eifel Tower. After school and during weekends I would play in the Jardin des Tuileries in front of the famous landmark. Probably impressed by its size, my father would regularly tell me: “Look at the Eifel Tower!” Well guess what, I always looked in the other direction, saying: “Where?” Already at that age I didn’t like being told what to do.

A few decades later this hasn’t really changed. And I completely empathize with employees getting stubborn and resisting change when they are being told what to do. Adults, used to doing their jobs in a certain way and being more or less successful with it, seldom appreciate being told what to do by people that aren’t in the details of their daily routines.
Don’t get me wrong: the first step in change is knowing what you want to change and why. But this is just the first step. The final objective is to have individuals taking ownership and deciding on how they want to implement that new approach. So the first lesson is: Don’t tell them what to do, but rather have them identify how to work more efficiently and more effectively.



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