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What You Need In Times of Change

change change types Jan 25, 2023

Our brain tends to return to the path of least resistance. If there isn’t a good enough reason to change then old patterns will quickly set back in and you’ll be right back where you started. It’s true on a personal level and if you're leading a team through change, then it's exponentially true because of all the people involved.

Have you heard of WIIFM? If you haven’t then you should know about it if you’re going to have any success with leading change. Obviously, it’s an acronym: What’s In It For Me?

You can cast a big picture vision of the potential benefits for change and even show the analytical and logical details of WHY change is necessary and still have people drag their feet. It’s because you haven’t answered the question: What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)

Change is very personal because you are asking people to change their behaviors – behaviors that likely may be comfortable or at least well known to them. Sure, you can set a policy and enforce standard operating procedures – and likely if you want the change to stick you SHOULD do these things. And, then, also consider how you can add in a little “sugar and spice” to the mix to advance the change. 

Consider how you can address the different needs people have on the team as you carry out the plans to make change happen. 

What Do Dreamers Need?

Dreamers need space to work out their many ideas. Don’t just share the headline, let them engage in dialogue to talk the idea out and explore the potential of what “could be”. They may wish to jump into taking action before you’re ready.  It will be easier to put it on hold if they have space to draw it, diagram it, and talk about it. Given that runway, ideas that aren’t change-worthy will often fall off the radar in favor of the next and better idea. 

WIIFM for a Dreamer, let them: 

  • Get involved early
  • Brainstorm and refine it to make it better
  • Involve others to support follow through

What Do Doers Need?

Doers need action with immediate impact. It’s not just results, it’s relevant results in the here and now. If they are excited about the change, then they are done talking about it and ready to act. If you’re not quite ready, it will be easier to slow them down if they at least have some step they can take that would produce “fruit” quickly. Maybe an experiment to test a theory or implementing a temporary fix before the “real” change begins. 

WIIFM for a Doer, let them:

  • Point out potential immediate results
  • Quickly do something relevant 
  • Lay out “milestones” to the big picture

What Do Thinkers Need?

Thinkers want to understand a problem deeply. Give them time to research and analyze the situation and offer their novel spin on possible solutions. Rather than slowing them down like a Dreamer or a Doer, you’ll want to pick up the pace by asking questions that will help them “bottom line” their thinking. You may have to gently push them to talk about or write about their thinking.

WIIFM for a Thinker, let them: 

  • Take time to research & explore possibilities
  • Contribute original ideas
  • Stay out of the detailed plans

What Do Fixers Need?

Fixers need time to see that there is a problem to solve. They are looking for facts, figures, justification, and details. Ideas they are willing to consider are proven ideas that have stood the test of time. Saying “yes” to change carries risk. If a fixer is putting on the brakes, then create space to talk through the risks they see. Ask them questions about the problem and how they would approach it. While you may not be able to implement their suggestions it can give you a different lens on how you need to talk about the change and what reassurances you will need to give.

WIIFM for a Fixer, let them:

  • Talk about the “what if” scenarios
  • Ask the practical questions
  • Be involved in the “how” of the change

What's Next

The kind of adaptive changes we need to make can benefit from a diversity of thinking and seeing and doing. While it takes time on the front end to understand and integrate style differences, the effort will accelerate the process as people get in their change zone. In the next blog, let’s look at each style’s unique contribution when people are in their zone.

If you’d like to get a preview of your approach to change, download the change style assessment HERE. And, I’d love to hear more about your questions as you lead your team through change. Comment below or email me HERE.

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