Don’t Say “Change Is Hard” When You’re Asking People to Change

When a change initiative hits a roadblock, leaders often remind people that “change is hard.” But that old saw can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Momentary setbacks or delays can be viewed as the dead canary in the coal mine, and suddenly, employees disengage en masse. Instead, try flipping the script. In a University of Chicago study, researchers were able to change participants’ mindsets by reminding them that most people improve with a little bit of effort. The results? Study participants were quicker to identify the upsides of change than the downsides. Instead of accepting that initiatives rarely succeed, remind yourself and your team that you’ve all been learning new skills and adapting to new environments for your entire lives. And every time you feel the impulse to say “Change is hard,” make a different claim, one that is every bit as accurate: Adaptation is the rule of human existence, not the exception.

Adapted from “Stop Using the Excuse ‘Organizational Change Is Hard,’” by Nick Tasler

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