May 2, 2017 Sara Ahlberg

Motivating co-workers, spinners and toddlers: change starts with why?

People don’t buy what you do, they buy what you believe in. You can support your people with information and tools, but it always starts (and ends) with WHY! This is what enabling change is all about.

When my children were small and it was time to eat supper and they were in the middle of a very exciting game, it was always difficult to get them to change from game mode to dinner mode. Demanding never worked. Sometimes I managed to trick them, but there always came a moment when they realised I had tricked them. It never felt great and it didn’t work a second time. However, if I took the time to explain why things were important to do just now, and I managed to get their ‘buy in’, they behaved like stars. The ‘why’ for my children was the most important tool to get them to change behaviour.

It works on grown-ups, too. One of the trainers at my local gym uses ‘why’ to great effect. All his classes are full to overflowing every single week. While other classes struggle to lure people in, people fight for a spot to work out with him. How does he do it? The how and the what are not unique. He follows a franchised class structure, and yet something is different. He believes in what he does. He tells us clearly why he is there. He wants us all to get fit, to be healthy, to fit into the jeans we bought last week and are two sizes too small. There is an emotional connection. Every week, when the going gets tough, he reminds us all to think about why we are there. At that point, the whole class starts to spin a little harder, or squat a little lower or reach for an extra couple of kilos on their dumbbells. We aren’t there for him, we are there for ourselves – but we believe in what he believes in. Once we connect to that, we are ready to give it the extra push.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!”
Simon Sinek

By inspiring people emotionally, we encourage a change in behaviour and things start to happen. Change starts and ends, as always, with people.

‘Why’ starts the whole journey with the customer and with your co-workers. It is the key to whether people choose your business or not. It is the emotional connection people have or don’t have to your business.

Businesses exist because they offer a product or a service which answers a need. But people don’t lack for choices. This is where the unique way in which the service or product is designed starts to add value and differentiate one business from another.

Change is often driven by a need to differentiate. Some businesses aim for the lowest price. Some add extra features to differentiate themselves. Then it’s up to the customer to decide if they want the lower price or the added value. When another business puts a unique twist on a product or service, the game is on – your business needs to change to stay competitive. Preferably, something that puts you ahead of all the others in the hearts and minds of the customer.

It is vital to remember a business does not change by decree of the board of directors. The people that work with you make a change happen. First, we need to inspire them. Reiterate WHY you exist. By first addressing the heart, their minds open to the HOW and the WHAT.

Most people getting up in the morning to go to work can explain what they will do when the get there. Fewer can really explain ‘how’ the business does what it does – how their value chain creates a unique product or service and how their work fits into the bigger context. Very, very few can explain ‘why’ they go to work every morning.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy what you believe in. You can support your people with information and tools, but it always starts (and ends) with WHY! This is what enabling change is all about.

WHY needs to explain the meaning of your business. Why do we exist? Understanding that leads to the way you build your ‘how’ – your Value Chain is a direct result of why you exist.

To summarise, great leaders don’t just issue orders. They inspire people to act. To spin harder, to stop playing and sit at the dinner table, to change a work routine. It’s only after you win people’s hearts that you’re ready to manage the change.

In next week’s blog post we will start to address HOW. Enabling as many people in our business as possible to understand ‘how’ the business is put together is the next step in the preparation towards enabling change for the better.

Sara Ahlberg

Sara Ahlberg

Name: Sara Ahlberg
Title: Senior Change Communication Expert
Experience: 29 years working with change management
Personal Mission: Connect the heart before the brain to enable change
Change Anthem: Change the World, Colby and Awu
Sara Ahlberg

About the Author

Sara Ahlberg Name: Sara Ahlberg Title: Senior Change Communication Expert Experience: 29 years working with change management Personal Mission: Connect the heart before the brain to enable change Change Anthem: Change the World, Colby and Awu

Comments (3)

  1. Catherine

    Great first blog. Great insights and info you can use in all aspects of life.

  2. Mi

    Brilliant! The inner motivation works and lasts long. When I understand why I am in this world and what kinds of differences I will make, things are done effortlessly and energy is generated by doing it rather than consumed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *