In a previous post titled: Simple Approach / Plan for Change, I brought up Awareness as the first phase for change. This has been the stimulant for a number of conversations about what Awareness and requests for more clarity on the topic.
I have been having lot’s of conversations with managers about how to get people to modify their behavior. Behavior modification starts with making the person aware of the impact of their behaviors. The awareness state is the first step of a journey that enables us to change the situation or address the issue. Getting someone to the aware state can be a rather daunting hurdle, mainly because our egos get in the way. Awareness is just having the knowledge about the current situation or state of affairs. So let’s look at the process that we all go through to become aware.
Moving from an unaware state to an aware state is a journey that requires an event or trigger to kick start the transition process of moving from an unaware state to an aware state. For self-aware folks, you are able to generate this event without help from the outside. However for most of us normal folks, we require some outside help to generate the the event. Think of the event as your alarm clock going off in the morning. We might not particularly enjoy it going off but it can definitely help us from being late and is therefore very beneficial to us. Managers: We might need to be the ones that create the event that kick starts this process.
In this phase we tend to ignore or deny the incoming data / perspective because the situation does not match our preconceived idea or notion of how we want it to be. This phase can be traumatic and depending on the implications or if the situation it may have an emotional on us. This phase is the most impactful all around because the personal that is doing the denying can feel that they are being picked on. The people that are trying to help can easily just stop trying to help because they are getting told that there is not an issue. People just get tired of trying to help and walk away.
Recognizing this phase:
- Our perspective is different from other peoples.
- Unwillingness to discuss the situation with others.
- Denial will manifest itself as emotional spikes or silence. The more passive the personality, the more the silence.
With practice this phase can be shortened but unfortunately not bypassed so make peace with it. It is OK to wish and / or wonder why this is happening to us. The circumstances of the event and associated emotional impact with have an impact of the duration of this phase. Managers: Give people time to process the event and the implications.
- Work with your people and take them through the trauma. In certain situations, they might need to get external help, so work with your HR representative and be aware of the manpower laws.
- Do not mistakenly categorize silence as denial because analytical personalities take time to process the data and they tend to process in silence.
- Getting stuck in this phase means that we are disconnected from reality and often leads to argumentative behavior.
- People that just deny will find that people will stop trying to help them.
Redirecting the attention elsewhere is an attempt not to involve ourselves. This phase is where people find the reasons and attempt to rationalize things why not to accept this information that is different to our perspective or desired state.
Recognizing this phase:
- Redirecting the attention or blame onto others.
- I can’t do anything about this situation / issue.
- Raising points about similar behaviors / issues with others thereby justifying their perspective.
- Do not allow people to play the victim or to rationalize the situation as not theirs issue. Accountability starts here.
- Equality for all – do not treat people differently because it is divisive to the team morale.
- Stay focused on the individuals situation and do not fall into the trap of discussing this issue as a relative issue.
- This is the victim state because it is a lot easier to redirect the attention form us.
Yeah I know I talk too much We all start off in an unaware state where we do not have the knowledge in our minds. If we are lucky enough we manage to make it to an aware state where we have the knowledge and are then able to define our action plan based on the knowledge we have gained. Let’s look at the process of how we move from the unaware state to an aware state so that we can remove the luck portion and manage the situation better. People that are self-aware have the ability to generate the Event with little to no outside help.
Recognizing this phase:
- Run out of excuses is the most common.
- You have adopted or modified your perspective to include the points raised.
- Able to list the points where your perspectives were different or the similarities.
Acknowledgement is last step of awareness but for managers it is important to help our people use this new awareness to modify their behavior appropriately. Help them and coach them through to the desired state.
- It is important to differentiate between acknowledgement and a plan to address the issue discovered through the new found awareness.
- When dealing areas of improvement, it is important not overwhelm the person and also to help with a plan to address these issues. Without the help, they will quickly become demoralized.