Can You Change the Unchangeable?

Posted by Sabrina Baker | Posted in Employee Engagement, Human Resources, Leadership | Posted on 27 March 2014


Can Those Who are Set in Their Ways, Change?

People can change. You can tell me I’m wrong, but I won’t believe you. I have more than one person in my life that is dramatically different than they were 5 or 10 years ago. Maybe the core of who a person is doesn’t change, but how they go about their lives and personality traits, can definitely change.

So what about that leader that seems to be incapable of changing? The one who leads with an iron fist or is the micro manager of micro managers? How do you get them to change?

Harvard Business Review put together this quite scientific list of theories and studies that combined create ten ways to get people to change.

One thing I believe to be true is that people will not change until the consequences of staying the same are worse than changing. It is something they have to decide on their own.

You can threaten. You can talk to them rationally. You can lay out all the reasons why their leadership style isn’t working. Until the consequences of not changing are creating more pain than the change itself, the won’t do it.

I have witnessed leaders set in their ways for years finally realize they need to do something different when employee after employee left the company and sited them specifically as the reason. After the first one or two they could discount the complaints as those employees just not liking their style. After the six or seventh, they had to admit that maybe it was their style.

I have witnessed a “my way is always the best way” manager be brought to tears after his way failed miserably and the company lost a major client. When he gave in and did things the way his employee had been suggesting all along, the client admitted they would have liked it that way from the beginning and would not have left the company.

Sometimes the trigger for change happens suddenly. Other times it takes a while for the person to see the need.

Those who seem unable to change can in fact change. You can search for ways to make people change and see that all the major media outlets have ideas. They are all great ideas, but know this first and foremost. You can not force change in people. They have to decide it is necessary on their own. And it usually takes a negative circumstance, negative consequences to trigger the desire to do it on their own.

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Sabrina Baker

Sabrina is the CEO and founder of Acacia HR Solutions. After spending 11 years in HR Generalist/Recruiting roles in corporate America, Sabrina experienced a layoff in 2010. During her time as a job seeker she realized that she had an advantage over many other job seekers because of her knowledge on the "other side". She also realized that job seekers do not have it easy these days and wanted a way to help. In 2011, Sabrina started the company as a way to continue her HR and Recruiting practice, but also help job seekers which had become a passion project for her. The company was built on the premise that everyone could find meaningful work. Sabrina serves as a consultant to companies in order to help them create meaningful work environments for their employees and as a mentor and coach to job seekers in their efforts to find meaningful work for themselves.

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