Overcoming Obstacles to Improvement

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leaders are expected to improve results, which means something must change.

People often see change as risky, so they resist it until they are convinced that the expected improvement will outweigh the risk of the change. Surviving in a competitive world demands that improvements continue, so motivating people to change, to improve a product or process, consumes much of a leader’s time.

Leaders may launch an improvement effort by explaining why the change is necessary, how it will produce an improvement, and how the improvement will create value for the company and its people. But then, the leader must engage in a dialogue about the pros and cons of the proposed change to secure the commitment necessary to pursue the improvement. The two most common barriers to commitment are:

  1. The fear of change. Defeating this fear requires that leaders show optimism in considering what is possible, confidence in assessing the risk of change, and courage to act in implementing the improvement. Remaining engaged throughout the change assessment dialogue generates the momentum that overwhelms the fear.
  2. The change will disrupt a precedent which has delivered efficiency, quality and risk . This objection most often arises from those responsible for preserving the precedent. Leadership typically moves the change dialogue toward commitment by:
  • acknowledging that the current solution was effective in resolving the needs present when it was initiated;
  • explaining how the proposed improvement addresses an evolving, more urgent need; and
  • describing why the expected benefits diminish the perception of higher risk.

Most employees understand the need for improvement. They seek to discover why a specific one is necessary, how it might affect them, and how they might make a difference by facilitating the change.

How does your leadership improve results?

Leave a Comment