People Don’t Resist Change, They Resist YOU. How to Build a Change Trust

“People are just not engaging with this initiative!”

Clients come to me for solutions to get people moving in line with their strategy. They’ve communicated the direction but the uptake is zero. Nothing has changed. Here’s why:

A. Lack of knowledge – The target is not clearly understood or why you want to go there.
B. Lack of incentive – There’s no clear benefit.
C. Lack of connection – No one has connected the dots from the initiative to the individual.
D. Lack of trust – If people don’t believe you or believe in you, they will not follow.

As a leader, you are accountable for all of these failures either directly or through your managers. If they are not following, your leadership is broken.

When there is a failure to ignite change, here is how I create a Change Trust:

1. Establish a Track Record. What previous accomplishments establish your credentials as a leader of this change? Get brilliant at demonstrating your brilliance.

2. Get Endorsed. What other leader with strong credibility can endorse you? Just like reviews on Amazon, having someone else say, “It’s OK to follow” can make a big difference in making the sale.

3. Click Repeat. Say it again and don’t stop saying it. Multiple communications using multiple channels is the only way to ensure your message gets through. Test for understanding.

4. Huddle Up. Gather your managers and make your expectations clear. Have an open conversation about obstacles to change and have them identify solutions. Set them up for success.

5. Go 1-on-1. Dispel assumptions about your intentions by getting up close and personal with people at all levels. Respond to questions truthfully and sincerely.

6. Put Their Needs First. Find out what people believe they require for success in the new world and equip them: Training, temporary backfill, information, opportunity for input.

7. Work Narrow and Deep. Focus on a subset of stakeholders and support them until they are successful. Hold them up as an example.

8. Give Them a Voice. Bring your stakeholders to the table.

9. Convert Detractors. Convince, remove or work around them.

10. Celebrate Often. Recognize efforts towards the goal. Publicize success. Build your track record.

11. Be Present. Photos don’t cut it. Emails are inadequate. Get out and shake hands and talk up the change. Let them discover you are a real person.

12. BE FIRST. Attend the first training session. Be a tester. Place the first order. Take the first support request. Lead from the front!

Changing Your Mind

“We are doing this for the corporate good,” is not enough to move most people. Change is fundamentally about trust, and trust is about connection. How connected are you to those who need to drive change?

  • Are you spending at least 25% of your time connecting with people?
  • Is your communication one-dimensional?
  • Are you trustworthy?

If you’re not engaged with people, why should they engage with you?

Thoughtfully Yours,


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