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5 Steps to Getting Everyone On Board With Change

Author: Anthony Etzel/Thursday, July 21, 2016/Categories: Tales from the Road

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In almost every project, in every industry, I found that the management team, or the project team felt that change was necessary. However, talk is cheap when the rubber meets the road. Getting people to embrace change is very challenging.

In an attempt to help realize why change is sometimes necessary for a business to survive and thrive, here is my view on change, presented for your consideration:

C: ChaosLoss of control, no clear definition of what is about to happen. How will things change? For what reason(s) do they need to change? Yes, for a period of time, you may feel like the ground beneath you isn’t solid.

H: Hostility- Will you have more work? Will you lose your job? You will be stressed, which may lead to anger?

A: AloneWhy is this happening to you? Why do you feel like you are the only one who isn’t embracing the change?

N: Nightmare - Most people are afraid of the unknown, and dread uncertainty. They go to great lengths to stay where they are to avoid going down a new path. A new path is scary.

G: GriefOpening the door to bad possibilities - change could lead to worse outcomes. This leads to feelings of negativity and sadness.

E: Evil – As in, “The End”. You believe that the change could result in complete failure. You think it is a very bad idea that reeks of impending doom.

Let’s face it. We all hate change and we put it off as long as possible. I remember one time when I knew I needed to replace my personal computer. I was hoping to put it off as long as possible because I knew how much work would be involved. Well, putting off the change presented a brand new set of challenges when one day, my PC died. Now, I was FORCED into change and it was more difficult than if I planned out the move to the new PC.

I realized that my world was temporarily in CHAOS. I had information on my PC that I needed….email to retrieve, bills that needed to be paid, etc. I felt immediate HOSTILITY that I had to drop everything. I was going to take care of this problem and would be forced to get used to a new machine with a new operating system, new software, etc. I felt ALONE. Why me? Why now? I was living in a freaking NIGHTMARE… so many things to do. Was I forgetting something? What if I can’t get back all of my data? What happens then?!  GRIEF became my friend. I was certain that this was just going to make my life a living hell for months to come. I convinced myself that technology was just EVIL and nothing in my life was ever going to go right again.


A bit overdramatic? Yes. But when change comes, it brings up all of these emotions. How can you avoid the drama?

Things to consider when planning change:

1.  Clearly define what you are doing today, and what your world will look like after the change.

2.  Make sure you have a good approach on how to achieve the end goal, or specific end result. With a plan in place, your people will be more open to new possibilities, and will feel more confident moving forward because there are steps to guide them along the way.

3.  A critical component for successful change is education. Perhaps after education, the fear factor will go away. As they say, knowledge is power! Never assume everyone on the team, or stakeholders beyond the team, understand what the change is and what the benefits are. Every project should begin with educating core team members on why, how, and what we are changing, project goals and our underlying methodologies.

4.  I always say that without buy-in from management, the project will not be successful. It’s critical to get key decision-makers and influencers lined up and supporting the project early. They can help disarm dissenters long enough to get the change process underway and achieve critical early momentum.

5.  Always share examples of previous success, or small successes along your current path because some people will distance themselves from failure. Champion the successes and contributions of every participant on the team and let them help support the change-makers across the organization.

I want to leave you with this one thought:


They all need to embrace change. Your job is to make it easy for them to do so.

About the author:

Anthony is a recognized industry expert in manufacturing processes and operational improvements. His thirty-plus years of experience encompass a broad spectrum of industry sectors: Automotive, Pharmaceutical, Medical Equipment Manufacturing, Aerospace Manufacturing, Food and Beverage, and General Manufacturing. He is uniquely qualified to quickly and accurately identify the potential improvements in efficiency in both discrete and process manufacturing operations, and identify those specific areas that could most benefit from process improvement.


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Anthony Etzel

Anthony Etzel

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