Motivation and mobilization - Change Management

On a very basic level we can ask, ‘What will motivate anyone and everyone to be positively involved in change? What gets people up in the morning?’ More specifically, what will get people engaged in the changes that we want to happen? You will recall from Chapter 2 that we identified four different personality types:

  1. the thoughtful realists who need to have a very good reason for change based on solid evidence and tangible reasons;
  2. the thoughtful innovators who will want to know where the changes are heading and how they fit with the overall strategy;
  3. the action-oriented realists who will want to get started on improving things but will need clarity of direction and definitely some actionable first steps; and
  4. theaction -oriented innovators who will, no doubt, embrace change, as long as they can be a part of it and as long as they are inspired to follow it.

Each of these personality types will be motivated in different ways. It may explain why some people may appear less enthusiastic or more reluctant to engage with what you say and how you say it. So, when you start planning how you might mobilize people it is worth spending some time in understanding the different types of language that will be required to get everyone on board. Successful mobilization will address these different personality needs.

Not only will different people be motivated by different things, it is indeed a good discipline for change managers to address the types of issues that different personalities see as important. So it is necessary to create an inspiring vision of the future which people can aspire to and work towards,but it is also critical that the vision – and of course the changes themselves are grounded in reality. There does need to be an evidence-based rationale for change and some practical ways into the changes with tangible and specific objectives. This leads on to the need for a coherent business case which has an inherent logic, but this needs to be tempered with an understanding that change impacts people and can impact the core values of an organization. Some people will focus on the impact on people and values before they turn to the logic of the business case. Some people will tend to want the change to be presented (and implemented) in a structured,systematic and orderly way with little or no deviation. Others will feel hemmed in by this approach and will be better motivated to join the change journey if they believe it to be more of a voyage of discovery with options and possibilities emerging as the change progresses. In that sense it’s about holding the tension between tying things down and keeping options open.

Another way of looking at mobilization is through some of the research on motivation. Porter and Lawler (1968) have tied together a number of motivation the ories in an integrated model which is based on the three components of effort, performance and satisfaction. One can argue that for people to be motivated to be involved in change, those three components need to be aligned and these key questions satisfactorily answered from the individual’s perspective:

  • Effort – is the change worth the effort that will be involved? Will the benefits out weigh the costs?
  • Performance – am I able to achieve the performance that will be required by the effort I need to put in? Indeed, am I competent to deliver the necessary changes if I get involved?
  • Satisfaction – will I achieve enough satisfaction through the level of the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards on offer? What is it worth, my getting involved?

From the change manager’s view the questions take on a slightly different bent, essentially becoming, ‘How can we sell the benefits of change enough to enable people to make the effort to deliver the performance that we are looking for?’ This in turn generates the need for the change manager to create a picture of the future that is attractive (remember, for all types!); understand and communicate what level of performance and types of behaviour will be needed; and what level of commitment and effort is realistically expected.

In Making Sense of Change Management (Cameron and Green, 2004) we looked at a number of motivation theories that have some relevance when itcomes to mobilizing people in general and also identify areas which you as change agent may need to address directly. The behavioural school of psychology, for example, will suggest employing the possibilities of rewards if you engage with the change and punishments if you don’t. Adherents of Herzberg may warn that you need to be clear that the changes that you are suggesting can have both motivating and demotivating effects, and not necessarily in the way you may have imagined. Whereas an increase in Herzberg’s hygiene factors (for example: pay, working conditions, status, levels of job security) may not actually increase motivation, a decrease in these factors may well increase demotivation. Getting a car parking spacemay be ‘nothing special’; taking it away will cause anger or annoyance.Herzberg suggests that factors such as the possibility of increased achievement, advancement and responsibility will tend to be motivating factors in any change. Though we might add… as long as the rewards are commensurate with the efforts.

Finally, it can be useful to check how the changes you are suggesting might impact on people’s hierarchy of needs according to Maslow (1970).

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