How you make people want to change

By Martin Egerström

How you make people want to change

Changing people’s habits and behaviours doesn’t come easy. Changing how a whole company does things is an even greater challenge. To succeed you need to create a feeling of urgency within the organisation that is strong enough to break through and get people’s attention. 

But how do you get a large number of people in your organisation to see and feel the need for change that you already see?

Visualise the opportunity

It might be super clear for you that there is an opportunity for your company and that it is fundamental to your future success that your company starts moving right now to seize it.

But you can’t expect others to see and feel this opportunity and start acting on it just by having a quick chat or a workshop with them. It takes persistent effort and hard work to open people’s eyes enough for change to start.

First, formulate the opportunity (that right now might be described in a detailed business case with numbers and graphs, or maybe just in your head) into a message that everyone in your organisation can identify with. A message that is short and clear, positive and energising, that makes sense. A message that talks to the heart, not just the head.

Note that the word opportunity is used here, rather than threat. The scare tactic can sometimes work to some degree, but to keep people motivated it is much more effective to view the new circumstances you are facing as an opportunity.

Bring the outside in

When you have your message formulated, one of the first things you should do is to actively bring the outside world into the organisation. It is the outside world that is the whole reason why you need to change. People change their behaviour, technology advances, new competition with new ideas pop up, etc. How many people in your organisation do you think stay on top of this on a regular basis? Probably very few since people are fully occupied with their everyday work.
There are many ways to bring the outside in. For example, let colleagues that meet customers regularly (sales reps., customer service etc.) share their experiences with the rest of the team. Study what other companies do and invite external speakers.  Look to hire people who understand and feel the need to move in the direction of the opportunity and are motivated to inspire others.



No matter how good you are at explaining the new opportunity, the feeling of urgency must be repeated. You should use every chance you can get to convey your message in a way that is relevant and make sense to others. Since most people by default are resistant to take in new ideas, only when they feel it is relevant to them they will listen to you.

Lead by example

People don’t automatically change just because they are told to, in particular if they don’t see others changing. When you lead by example people are more likely to follow. Actions are worth more than words.

Highlight wins

Things will not change overnight. People will need continuous confirmation and proof that they are actually moving in the right direction–and that it actually gives result. Take every opportunity to communicate how you are progressing and getting closer to reaching the objectives. 

Do you want to know how to accomplish real change in your organisation, just get in touch!

Talk to an expert

Martin Egerström
Project Manager at Zooma 2005-2022.
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