Is It Possible To Change People’s Attitudes?

Photo by Ryan Hyde

Photo by Ryan Hyde

We’ve Always Done It This Way

I was having a recent discussion with a church staff member who has been encountering change resistance from some volunteers under his leadership. He acknowledges that these volunteers are good people. They desire to minister to others. He is convinced, though, that their style of service needs to adapt to the next generation. Unfortunately, these volunteers are too “old school” for the church’s current needs.

I believe every generation probably struggles with the attitude of “ … but, we’ve always done it this way.” All of us can get set in our ways. We can get hung up on one way to do something. We can become resistant to any kind of change.

Leaders are (supposed to be) change agents. We are the ones who must show and lead the way to those who follow us. The problem we sometimes run into, though, is when our followers don’t want to follow in the change path.

The questions then start. Why is this person resistant to change? Do they not understand the reasons we need to make these changes? Are they just set in their ways? Is this all my fault? Did I try to make too many changes, too quickly? Am I bad leader?

Changing People Is Hard

The reality for all of us who lead teams is that change is difficult. No one likes change. Everybody enjoys their comfort zone.

So, what do we do? How do we change these people?

Is there a training program you can implement? Is there a magical, inspiring speech you can give that will light a fire under these people? Can you give these volunteers a 5-point plan to accomplish the change you want?

Yeah, probably not.

Growth Is The Answer

The answer that this staff member mentioned to me is that you can’t change followers who are resistant to change. Realistically, it’s not possible.

But, you can grow right past them.

You can grow as a leader. You can facilitate the growth of the followers who have captured the vision you want to accomplish. You can grow your base of followers by adding people to the team who see and believe in the vision you want to accomplish.

If this kind of growth takes place, then what? What happens to those who continue to resist the change?

Well, there are a few possible scenarios in a situation such as this.

One, they keep hanging around, and you end up working around them with your other team members. Two, they observe the growth happening around them, and they finally decide to go with the change. Three, they end up quitting because they don’t like the change. Four, you end up letting them go.

Changing people’s attitudes is difficult, if not impossible to achieve. As a leader, don’t get stuck focused on a bunch of people who won’t make the changes you’re looking to make. Focus, rather, on growing past them.

Questions: Have you encountered similar situations in your organization? How have you dealt with this problem?

Why You Should Stick With One Change Before Trying Something Else

Photo by marsmet546

Photo by marsmet546

Change Is Good, Right?

We live in a world full of change. It would seem in our modern era, constant change is our new norm.

In fact, I know some people who love changing things up in their lives, their homes, their ministries, and their work, simply because they love change so much. They can’t sit still in one place for very long. They change for the sake of change.

While I believe change can be a positive force within our personal lives and organizations, we need to be cautious on creating a constant churn of change. Too much of a “good” thing could end up having a negative impact over time.

Do changes need to be made on an occasional basis? Yes, especially in this super-fast paced, crazy, modern world we now live in. But, I do think we need to exhaust all the possibilities of one change before moving on to something else. Massive changes always take longer to take root and establish themselves then we think they do.

So, if you really want to grow and develop something, then don’t go with the following approach: make a change, give it two weeks, don’t see much progress, scrap that change, and then move onto something else. This is not the best plan to grow yourself, a ministry, a business, a church, or any organization.

Cranking Down On The Flywheel

In his book Good To Great, author Jim Collins talks about the flywheel effect and its impact on taking an organization from good to great.

A flywheel is simply a huge, metal, heavy disk mounted on an axle. Because of its size and weight, if you can get the flywheel moving fast enough, it will produce a tremendous amount of energy to keep an engine moving faster and more efficiently.

To get that flywheel moving at first, though, takes a tremendous amount of energy. You have to push and push to get it to finally make one revolution. Then, you push a little more, and it makes a second revolution, and then a third one. Each revolution gets a little easier because of the weight energy stored within the flywheel itself.

All of the sudden, after several difficult rotations of the flywheel, momentum takes over. You can’t pinpoint the exact moment when it does, but there will be less effort required to keep the flywheel moving.

This same principle can be true in our personal lives, businesses, churches, or organizations. When we’re in the beginning stages of making massive changes, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of time and energy. We’re going to have to push our flywheel really hard. We may want to roll over and give up. But, if we know these are the correct changes to make, that this is the correct path to go, then we need to keep pushing with everything we have. If we have enough strength and patience to keep going, then over time, the flywheel effect will take place, we build momentum, and the massive changes we desire will take place.

The key to accomplishing the flywheel effect, though, is don’t stop. Many people and organizations do not have the patience to be persistent with their current change path. They push for a little while, don’t think they’re making any progress, and then give up and try some other change path. This doesn’t work. Simplicity, consistency, and persistence are the only ways to effect any kind of long-term changes in your life or organization.

Questions:  Are you in crisis mode to get something going and growing? Do you have the tendency to change things too often in order to stimulate growth? After reading this post, are you going to approach change differently?