We have all heard, “if you want lasting change, you must make it sticky.” Naturally, the corresponding question you may be asking now is “How do I make it sticky?” The answer is simple, yet it’s complicated. I believe the answer lies in the definition of sticky. According to Google, sticky means “tending or designed to stick to things on contact or covered with something that sticks.” “Designed to stick”, I love that!
In the field of organizational change management, it is not the organization that changes, but rather it’s the people within organizations who change. However, the challenge many leaders face is figuring out how to cultivate and reinforce the mindset change that is needed for people to adopt new behaviors. Let’s look at the concept of sticking physical objects together and apply it to the concept of social influence.
Make Proper Connections
When we think about mending two objects together, the objects must connect. right? Likewise, when leading change within a business bringing people together is vital.
To make your organizational change programs sticky or to make change stick within an organization, you must consider the audience or stakeholders, the level of impact, and the timing of the interaction with each group. What is the likelihood that they will adhere to new processes or behaviors required? Are the stakeholders ready for change? Do they perceive a problem that the change addresses? Once all stakeholders (those who are impacted by the change) have been fully identified, the next step is to apply the right methodology to make meaningful connections. This may include a range of activities from coaching to focus groups to listening sessions. To make ideas sticky, leaders must create opportunities for stakeholders to provide input, express their concerns and get involved in the process. Listening and applying the right engagement tools to capture information is necessary. Think about the personality or the behavioral styles of team members, change agents, and sponsors and maintain full awareness of behavioral styles making sure that messages are delivered through the lens of empathy, trust, rapport, understanding, compassion, knowledge and credibility. All these are critical success factors to make your communications resonate with your audience. Understanding your audience will give you a better idea of what each persona needs to hear in order to adopt the change.
Apply at Right Time and Place
To make a substance sticky, the adhesive must be applied and distributed throughout the entire surface area. Done correctly, any substance that encounters the surface area should stick. A novice may neglect to add adhesive to grooves or crevices because they think the chances that the item will fall in that area is relatively low. This belief should be avoided because areas that unglued are more susceptible to air pockets. There are two options to avoid this, either fill in the crevice with another substance, like putty, and then apply the adhesive or simply apply adhesive in each groove or crevice.
You also must consider the environment and the conditions under which this change is to take place. What other projects are competing for attention? How many other change projects have the stakeholders been a part of recently? Be mindful of change fatigue. Finally, for change managers, the methodology and tools that are used within the project matters as well as how they are applied to a given situation plays a significant role in sustaining change.
Utilize the Right Techniques
The third factor that relates to making something sticky is the methodology used to apply the adhesive. As you know there are many adhesives on the market. Some are in liquid form, some are thick pastes, some are in stick, some require a hot glue gun, and there are also adhesive sprays.
Some people like to use their fingers and some like to use brushes or sticks–there are many application methods. However, all methods are not effective. Depending on what is the objective or the properties of what you’re trying to bring together with the adhesive, where you apply it, the methodology and tools you use to apply the adhesive matters. To make something stick, whether its paper, plastic or wood, the right type of adhesive matters. Every adhesive is not suitable for all materials. All glues do not have the same functionality due to their diverse chemical and physical properties. Likewise, when influencing others to adopt change, the audience, the channels, the messaging, and the messenger, and timing are important factors in the communication process.
This article is featured in the first issue of Leaders and Thinkers Magazine.