Supporting change

If you want someone to change, you have to not only give them time to change, but you need to show them that you will be there to support them when they need help. They might be worried that they’ll starting learning the new way and then you’ll leave them out to dry without any help to get them the rest of the way.

The other day I was making a change to a part of an application that I don’t deal with much using a framework that I’m not an expert in. It wasn’t very hard to figure out, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I hate feeling like something is taking me way longer than it’s supposed to just because I’m not the expert in the application or technology. I’m sure you all can relate to this.

Now think about having to do something completely foreign to you, like a new language, platform, or technique that you’re really not good at. Or maybe you’re trying to change the way that your business analysts write requirements or your QA people test software. We can criticize people for being fearful of change, but we’ve all been there are some time.

If you’re the one who knows what they’re doing when it comes to the new whatever you’re doing, look really hard for opportunities to help people. Most people are reluctant to ask for help (maybe they have egos, they think you’re too busy, or they just don’t want to get up out of their chair). Instead, ask people how they’re doing today. When they mention that they’re struggling with something, go help them with it, and then offer to help them again if they need it.

Some people are definitely more adverse to change. If you’re the one proposing the change, chances are you are not as adverse to change as others. You have to try and put yourself in their shoes. They have good, logical reasons in their mind to not do what you want them to do. If you can empathize with them (or at least attempt to), you’ll be more in tune with their fears and what you can do to help them through it.