I have been enabling change for as long as I have been working! This has taken many forms, as a manager, a teacher, trainer, facilitator and coach. One of the constant challenges I have found is how to gain peoples buy in to what can be a very painful process. If we are honest, few of us like change initially. You just have to look at the way people choose to sit in the same seats every day on their daily commute! We create our own comfort zones by forming habits and performing rituals on a daily basis. This provides a sense of security and I am not knocking this as I need this as much as anyone, however we do need to be pushed out of our comfort zones in order to grow and develop and for change to happen.
So what I have been looking for for many years has been a process for change that energises people, excites them, and is fully actionable.
I believe I found this when I first came across the work of Richard Boyatzis as part of his collaborative work on emotional intelligence.
Boyatzis developed an approach to personal change which recommends the following stages
- Identify Ideal self
- Identify Real self
- Identify the gap between the two and plan to reduce the gap
- Experiment with new behaviour
- Get support whilst working through the process
In my work I have used this process on a one to one basis, and adapted it for teams. My observations around the process are noted here:
- In identifying the ideal self it is extremely helpful to work in images, that is to create an image of your ideal self and bring this to life in your mind by visioning it. I also recommend that people then draw this to share with others rather than describe it in words.
- In identifying the real self it is helpful to use assessments such as a strengths profile. This helps to balance the sometimes negative space that people can be in when considering where they are now.
- In identifying the gap, I use a storyboard approach which again provides a visual image of the journey from real self to ideal self. One point I would make here is that it is more energising to work back from the ideal self than to move forward from real self. Moving forward from real self can be like walking through treacle and can result in stuckness!
- Experimenting with new behaviour can seem a little strange at first however in order to change, you need to do something different. That’s clear! However our brains are wired to follow the habits and paths we have already built up. In order to change this we really need to work hard and consistently to change these paths.
- Coaching or mentoring can be a very good way of getting support for the new behaviour because what is important here is to have a support process when change becomes uncomfortable when we are out of our comfort zone, and also to celebrate when we succeed.
Barbara is an executive coach, creativity and change facilitator with extensive experience of supporting people and organizations achieve their potential.