What is your plan?

Last week, a client spoke passionately about their personal development, especially since they were in a new role. Taking time to intentionally think about what you are doing to grow professionally, and then consistently acting on it, matters.

Often, we focus on the day-to-day work in front of us and lose sight of areas where we can develop. Maybe take an improv class if you have a fear of public speaking, or take a university course or one on Coursera. You could also join a mastermind group or (shameless plug) work with an executive coach.

Each year, I try to do one or two big things to elevate my skills or expand my learning beyond reading books or listening to podcasts. This year, I am excited to announce that I am expanding my business by partnering with Deb Graham, who is very experienced in organizational change.


You don’t lead by hitting people over the head, that’s assault, not leadership.

John Maxwell

I am thrilled to share an article, written by Deb Graham called: How to WIN at Leading Change, to get you into the topic of the work we will be doing together:

Have you ever wondered why people resist change? According to Gartner, 45% of HR leaders say their employees are fatigued from

so much change.* Yes, it’s possible that people are tired. It’s also likely that our approach to change isn’t working. In our hurry to implement another new program, policy, or strategy shift, we lean on telling people what to do and assume they will do it. That may work for a bit but as soon as we move on to the next priority, people revert to the old way of doing things. Instead of telling people what to do, WIN.

Why – Do I know why this change matters and how it fits in with the other changes that are happening? When the process, system, or who I need to work with is different than the norm, it takes extra time. I already have a lot to do so why is this important? Also, what’s in it for me? Is my job going to get easier? Will I learn a skill that makes me more marketable? Or will there be job eliminations? The answer to how change will impact me can motivate or demotivate.

Involve – If you’re changing a process or system I’ve been using for years, it’s likely I have some ideas to make it better. Ask my opinion. Involve me in the discussion. Let me know you hear my concerns. People like to influence change but they resist having change done to them. If you can’t involve people in ‘what’ is changing, involve them in the ‘how’. Be clear what can be influenced and what can not.

Needs – My response may be a reaction to how the change will affect me. Our brains react defensively when we feel threatened. In contrast, our brains receive a blast of dopamine when we feel rewarded. The Neuroleadership Institute describes five domains of social threat and reward that trigger our behaviors. Our sensitivity to these five SCARF domains varies from person to person, they are: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Restriction and Fairness. Autonomy may be a big trigger for me but Certainty might be more important to you. When you understand and meet an individual’s specific SCARF need, their threat response is calmed. We’ll dig deeper into SCARF in How to Win, Part 2.

You may be thinking ‘this takes time’. And you’re right, it does. When it comes to organizational change, going fast may feel good, but it’s rarely sustainable. Taking the time to engage people and meet their needs ensures a sustainable WIN.

*Gartner: Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2023

To learn more about our work in business transformation click here, or to learn more about Deb, click here.

And Finally...

The type of environment where someone wants to work will matter differently to different people. One of my clients recently shared that he felt the company was too over the top focused on making sure everyone is “happy and engaged”. He said: “I just want to do the work but nobody seems to really focus on it. We are having far too many meetings on things other than the actual work.”

Another client was lamenting about the CEO and his strategy, realizing that she is not aligned with how he runs the company, which has created (in her opinion) a culture of stressed out, beaten down sellers. How can she move forward?

This all syncs up with How To Win at Leading Change, as Deb wrote up. Stay tuned for more on the SCARF model in the next edition.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or thoughts, reach out anytime.

Have a great week.
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at info@mjrcac.com