Five Ways to Encourage Change in Others

I have two stories for you.

Early in my career, I worked for a boss who asked us to assess our strengths and weaknesses. He wanted to use this information to help us prepare for potential promotions that might be available in the future. I was game since I did not envision myself staying in that position for a long time. I remember that one of the weaknesses I shared was the difficulty I had sometimes in separating myself from some of the office gossip. I was in my late twenties at the time and working on my own need to fit in and be liked.

We talked about it and he shared the importance of being able to trust people he supervised, and he especially wanted to impress on me the need he had to trust anyone in a leadership position. I got what he was saying and worked hard to stay away from folks when they were deep into spreadin’ other folks’ business. After about a year on the job, I found out that he had been telling other people in leadership positions not to trust me with anything confidential. When I confronted him about it, he said “Well you told me you’re bad at keeping gossip to yourself.” He had not bothered to see if there had been any growth in that area on my part and he had used my honesty against me.

Fast forward five years, I’m in a leadership position now and having the same kind of honest conversation with my new boss. Yes, I remembered being burnt in the past, but I still wanted to improve. This time I shared that I had trouble being organized both professionally and personally. Nine months in, she and I were in a meeting in her office and she asked me if I had a certain document. I ran to my office and retrieved it immediately. When I handed it to her she looked at me and smiled. She said, “You were the one I was worried about. You are new to leadership and I thought I was going to have to hold your hand a lot. Every time I ask you for information or to find a memo or document, you are able to put your hands on it immediately. Everything is organized well.” She saw my growth.

That’s the kind of encouragement that builds confidence and inspires growth and change. As leaders, we owe it to those we lead both on the job and at home to do the same as she did for me. Let me pass on what I’ve learned in this area.

  1. If You Ask For Areas of Growth Then Honor The Trust You Are Given
    It takes a lot to be honest about your own areas for growth. Answering honestly can be intimidating and an extension of a certain extent of trust. Honor that by thanking them and holding that information sacred. Don’t share it or use it against them in the future.
  2. Expect Growth Not Stagnation
    Let them know that you have faith in them to grow in whatever areas they are determined to grow in. Don’t take any mistakes made as a failure. Don’t try to catch them messing up or standing still. Look forward to seeing them moving forward.
  3. Provide Resources To Assist In Their Growth
    It is challenging to change habits and behaviors on your own. Make sure to make them aware of any workshops, seminars, programs, books, or mentors that are available to them.
  4. Validate Improvement
    Everyone wants to be seen, especially when they have put in some hard work to change. Acknowledging that you are seeing improvement and letting them know what that means to you, the team, and the company will go a long way in creating the desire to continue to put in the work.
  5. Be a Model For Change
    Let them see you constantly striving to improve. We all have areas that need strengthening. Seeing you make changes in your own leadership is the best encouragement for them to keep getting better.

We are all here to grow and change for the better in order to be of service to others. In this world of focusing on where people get it wrong, there is a real need for supporting and encouraging people in their efforts to grow.

I’m on that road. How about you?

In love,
Dr. Lynne

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