Change In Your Business: The Attitude Bell Curve And Mental Toughness
As Business Tool.
a leader in your organization. When you have great ideas for the
business, but no one is buying into them, do you know why not? Do
you know how to handle the inevitable resistance that comes from
the change process in an organization? This article helps you manage
organizational change through your own mental toughness, employee
attitudes and the bell-shaped curve.
Managing Change In Your Business
The Attitude Bell Curve And Mental Toughness
As Business Tools
Bill Cole, MS, MA and Rick Seaman, MBA
You have a brilliant idea for your company that
will increase revenue and create more profits. There's only one
problem. The employees who have to implement the idea aren't buying
into your vision, so it isn't going anywhere. How can you get them
to change their opinion and embrace your great idea?
The Attitude Bell Curve
useful strategy for managing change is to assume employee attitudes
adhere to a standard, or bell curve, distribution. A small group
of employees are highly constructive, deeply committed to the organization,
and inherently supportive of management's change initiatives. Another
small group is highly disruptive, deeply alienated from the organization,
and inherently resistant to management's change efforts. Most employees
are more or less neutral and remain to be convinced about the merits
of any proposed change. A good yardstick is to assume 15% of the
population is supportive, 15% resistant and 70% neutral.
Unfortunately, the resistant minority is often both vocal and aggressive.
Most employees know who the whiners and malcontents are, and carefully
watch how management deals with them. If, as frequently happens,
the resistant minority is able to distract or delay management's
efforts to implement change, the neutral majority concludes management
wasn't serious about the change, or even worse, that the vocal minority
was right. The more management caters to the resisters, the more
this group wields a virtual veto on progress. This is true because
the resisters' objections are usually not about the merits of any
change, but a function of their alienation from the organization.
Selective Focus Begins the Change
The key to change management is to ignore both
the supportive 15% (they don't need convincing) and resistant 15%
(they can't be convinced) and concentrate on the neutral 70%. If
the broad middle of the population moves to the right on the attitude
bell curve, change happens. That segment will move to the right
if it sees that you are committed to the change and are no longer
allowing the resisters to thwart you.
What happens when the resisters see everyone else moving away from
their position? For some, the isolation becomes too uncomfortable
and they join the majority of the employees in implementing the
changes. For others, the realization that they have lost their power
causes them to leave, making both them and the company better off.
Mental Toughness: the Key to Bell Curve Management
Why isn't this simple strategy used more often?
It often comes down to the need for mental toughness from the senior
leadership in the organization. Mental toughness is being able to
maintain your interior focus, relaxation, determination and confidence
in the face of extreme external stressors that should, by all rights,
make you fail. It's performing at your peak under pressure.
These three tenets are at the crux of mental toughness:
- Exerting your focus where the impact is greatest.
- Attempting to influence only the things over which you have
full or limited control.
- Letting go of the things you can't control.
Our advice for the CEO, President, executive
or business owner who wants to successfully manage a company-wide
- Be mentally tough. Show determined leadership and persevere
under the most stressful resistance. Demonstrate that, in your
world, the change initiative is a done deal.
- Don't create more resistance than is naturally there by attempting
to fight or control every aspect of your change initiative.
- Don't take the resistance personally. Realize that the laws
of the corporate jungle are operating and you can't fight human
- Handle the stress of the change process in admirable fashion,
setting the standard for others to emulate.
Be a savvy business leader who understands how
change "really" operates, at organizational-intrapersonal levels,
and manage that change by leveraging your mental toughness as a
Read about our Mental
Toughness for Business speaking program to learn how you can
use a mental toughness toolkit that optimal performers apply to
problems and troubling situations to help them persevere and win.
Copyright © 2005
Bill Cole, MS, MA. and Rick Seaman, MBA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete,
coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest
levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and
corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for
questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Rick Seaman, MBA, is the former CEO of Strategy Implementation,
Inc., a management consulting firm that helped small companies align
their strategy and culture with market conditions. He has a BS from
the U. S. Naval Academy and an MBA from Stanford.
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