I’ve always thought that the way people adjust to change is a lot like how to they get into a swimming pool. Even on the hottest of hot days, there are some people who will run to the edge and cannonball into the deep, cold water. Sure, the initial shock will be pretty harsh, but they will be refreshed by the sudden temperature change and bob up to the surface, yelling for you to get into the water.
Then there are the easers. These are the people that get their feet used to the temperature first, and then ease themselves into the water inch by inch. Sure, these people take more time getting into the pool, but they just don’t like that instant shock. Once their bodies are adjusted, they are having just as much fun as the jumpers.
Maslow’s Hierarchy kicks in when we encounter change. These needs are fulfilled quicker for some people than others. The people who can quickly adapt around change are the divers and those who get stuck on certain levels are the easers.
When things change in the company you work for, you are going to go through the hierarchy. It’s just a part of the way we respond. Both you and your customer are working through the same things. By understanding why people act and respond the way they do – you can find it easier not only to ease yourself through change, but to help your customers as well. Check out these principals of change management psychology to help you and your customers ease (or dive) into the next big thing.
Something to Believe In
If all the conversations with your customers surround the things that will be “different”, they are likely to put your new ideas or their transition at arm’s length. Instead, break things down on how an individual customer will benefit. If you can say to a customer – “Yes, Bob, I know you’ve been looking for a better way to do XYZ, and this will be achieved with our new product” then you’re going to create a personal investment in the change. Give your customer something they can believe in, rather than expecting them to believe in what you’re excited about.
Provide as Much Consistency as Possible
When you’re pumped about a new start or direction, it can be hard to resist the temptation to throw it all away and start that building process from the ground up, but doing that can scare your customers. Ease your customers through things by changing only small things at first, before rolling out the big ones. Keep your staff the same as long as you can manage or don’t change your phone numbers until you absolutely have to. These things provide a consistently ground for your customers to keep walking along with you.
Reinforce Those Good Feelings
Once you start to push out some of those bigger things to your customers, make sure that you reach out and touch base with them, especially those who were the most resistant to change. Give them a few weeks with a new product or program, and then reach out with a phone call or email to see how things are going. This way you are available if they have any questions and you remain a consistent voice in the process.
Change isn’t easy on anyone and I think that it’s harder when you have a group of people (like customers) that you are responsible for easing through what can be a tricky process. Not only are you adjusting, but you have to walk them through the process as well. Remember that you want consistency and reinforcement as much as they do, and don’t be afraid to find your own ways to feel steady. There’s probably a good chance you and your customer can help each other through the process.
How do you help your customers through change?