Can you really change people?
There are those who say: “You can’t change people.”
Yes you can – and you yourself undergo change all the time. Do you remember the last time you developed a “craze”? Suddenly, your daily habits incorporated a new, special treat. Over time, you either maintained this habit or it wore off. Either way, these are two examples of behaviour change. When you undergo specific skills training, there is the opportunity to undergo even more fundamental change.
In business, you don’t get people in exactly the shape you want. And if you do, then tomorrow change will be required if you are to stay competitive.
Here are two stories from workshops conducted in April 2010 that prove the extent of people change, in a matter of hours in some cases.
Example 1: A team leader started a people management workshop with the goal to become less emotional handling people, especially those “troublesome” people on the team. Not only did she completely change her demeanour, workplace actions and internal emotional state during the tirade that hit her on the job the very next day after the training, but she mentioned that she had not even needed to go home and “vent” which is what she would have done before the training.
She was able to remain detached yet effective. And three weeks later, the situation with the troublesome person was effectively and permanently resolved. She said she was really enjoying herself at work! A month later, she is still relaying examples of actions she is taking to positively influence those on the team.
Example 2: A half day session was conducted focusing on how to get high performance out of people. Half way through this session, one of the account managers spontaneously declared that she would need to completely change her approach to managing performance. She suddenly realised that her approach was ineffective, indeed counterproductive, and she now knew how to be effective in her approach to performance management. At the end of the session, she said how excited she was to get out there and be effective in her role.
Both of these people managers made a complete change to themselves in response to some information and people change techniques.
Knowledge is power, but applied knowledge is even more powerful. When these managers go out and influence the way others think, effectively changing all those they come into contact with, then you know that you too can change people. And, indeed, in your role as a leader, you must.