What Are You Trying To Change?

Every day, I encounter people who are in  the business of trying to change people.  Don’t worry, I’m guilty too.  Organizations design around the notion of changing people but you already know what I think of performance appraisals.  We have deceived ourselves into thinking that we can change others.  I beg to differ.  The best you can do is influence and present information. The decision to change lies with the individual, not you.

I think we’re better off paying attention to Lewin’s equation which tells us that behavior is a function of a person and their environment. Instead of trying to change individuals, change their environment (system).  Look for the organizational impediments and dysfunctions that limit the abilities of the individuals in your organization.  I am pretty sure there are a couple you (manager/leader) can identify pretty quickly once you ask.  Create an environment that enables the people within it to succeed.  But a word of caution, in order to effectively do this, you must have empathy for people.

So what are you really trying to change?


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