What You Must Do Before You Can Sell Change

James is a new supervisor with Make Believe Manufacturing in Factory Town, Indiana. Recently, he met with his boss, Sarah, to discuss a new procedure required by a recent policy change.

James is upset with the change because he anticipates that his team will have strong complaints and might resist implementing it. Under the new procedure, his team must complete three additional documentation steps in a process they have been doing for years. His team is comfortable with the old way of doing things. He does not agree with the reasoning for the change, and he believes that it will add both time and complications to an already arduous process.

As he speaks with Sarah, James argues his case strongly. Sarah listens carefully, answers his questions, and then insists that James implement the procedure as written. James leaves the meeting feeling tired, frustrated, and discouraged. He believes that “selling” this change will be an incredibly difficult job he does not want to tackle.

Before calling a meeting with his team to tell them about the change, he goes to his office to reflect on the conversation with Sarah, the implications of the change, and to consider the situation more thoroughly. Sitting alone in his office, he thinks through the following questions:

  • Does this change violate any laws?
  • Will I have act contrary to my personally held moral and ethical beliefs?
  • Is anyone physically at risk because of the change?
  • Did Sarah listen to me, answer my questions, and offer a solid reason for the change?
  • Am I concerned with the difficulty of implementing the change or with the overall goal?
  • Am I focused on avoiding the struggle and frustration I might experience as I “sell” this procedure to my team or am I focused on the end goal?

He concludes that…

  • The procedure change does not violate any legal, moral, or ethical concerns.
  • The change will not cause anyone physical harm or put them at increased risk of physical harm.
  • While Sarah disagreed with James’s concerns, she did listen to him, seek to understand him, and offer reasons, that from her perspective, indicated a need for the change.
  • He did agree with the goal they were hoping to achieve even though he did not like the added work the procedure demanded.
  • And, finally, he realized that his real concern was avoiding the resistance he expected to receive from his team.

After careful thought and reflection, James realized that he needed to find a way to “get onboard” with the change – to own it for himself – so that he could “sell” it to his team. 

James realized that whether he was selling something physical, like a car, or something conceptual, like a procedure change, he had to own it before he could sell it. Because he understood both the reasoning behind the change and the overall goal, he was able “own it” despite the concerns he had with the specifics.

The situations you face might not be exactly like the one James faced, and the questions he considered might not cover every situation you will face. In fact, you could probably come up with additional questions to answer before you decide to “buy” a change or not. The questions he considered are a good starting point and the general process he used can help you in situations where you do not like or agree with a change you have to sell to your team. 

When you have to sell a change that you do not like or agree with, remember that you have to own it before you can sell it.



Do you have questions about selling change to your team? Drop us a line below, or email us at info@kevineikenberry.com.

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