This paper shall explore the elements in introducing change to a work environment
through persuasion and indirect means. The ideas and thought process on this matter have come
to me through reading the 48 Laws of Power. The two main principles in introducing change are
as follows: Appeal to people’s self-interest and preach the need for change but never reform too
much at once. These principles must be understood clearly and implemented in order for them to
enable a person to introduce change.
More often than not, most people will be motivated by self-interest rather than gratitude
or a sense of obligation or loyalty. This being said, it is of great import for a leader of a company
to find each employee’s goal. Depending on the size of the company, this would seem an
impossible task. However, the fact is if you are trying to introduce change and you want
maximum support and approval, people need to have motivation to see it actually implemented.
To find this motivation or self-interest key delegate close associates within your management
team to go around the office environment and probe. This probing involves interacting with and
chatting with people to find their individual interest or goals. People love to talk about
themselves and will open up in most cases if they believe the person inquiring is genuinely
interested. So much can be discovered about a person with simple conversation and by
observing their mannerisms and even how they keep their desk/personal space. Some companies
have employed a similar tactic in that they have each employee complete a personality test.
These personality tests divide into four different subgroups. They will often be color coded for
easy identification. One such test I took coded the colors as follows: Red is direct, assertive,
controlling, persistent and aggressive. Blue is detailed oriented, analytical, precise, thorough and
disciplined. Green is caring, tolerant, patient and seeks others happiness before their own.
Yellow is fun loving, desires to be the center of attention, spontaneous and thrill seeking.
This type of personality test combined with the above mentioned probing, would serve as
a powerful tool in assessing each employee’s motivation factor. Once data was gathered, the
upper management team should compartmentalize and organize it into four different categories.
These categories would allow for more efficient assessment and profiling. Once the manager has
honed in on the driving force behind a person’s motivation, they will be able to craft their
presentation of the new change to align with the interests of the subordinates. The fact is, people
need and want to know what is in it for them. Self-interest is the lever that will move people.
Make them see how you can meet their needs or advance their cause and their resistance to your
request for change will fall away. (Green 1998) It should be the goal of all leaders to maximize
productivity and inspire the employees to funnel their passion into their work. After all,
motivation is the key to mastery. Thus, if the manager wants to master his/her arena both in the
work environment and in the field, the business must be motivated from within.
Another principle to remember is never reform too much at once. If a manager tries to
radically change things it will leave the employees in shock. Two things are likely to then
happen, one they could rebel, or two, they will not be able to function properly because their
routine has changed so drastically. If the familiar is taken away, people will fear the chaos and
unknown thus leading to collapse. To spite people understanding the need for change they can
however be disconcerted and irritated by changes that affect them personally. Both of these
scenarios are likely to occur at the same time and to various degrees. At the end of the day, time
is money and thus, if productivity is down or even slowed, profits are going out the window.
To prevent this from happening the matter should be approached carefully. If
change/reform is necessary strive to illustrate that it is a gentle improvement on the past. Change
in the abstract, or superficial change is desirable but change that upsets core habits and routines
is deeply disturbing to them. (Green 1998) Again, by knowing the people in the work
environment you will be able to anticipate their reactions to the changes you have implemented.
When these possible reactions have been assessed you can then modify and sweeten the
implementation. Use harmless elements from the past in your revolution of change to make it
more comforting and legitimate in the employee’s eyes. If the employees think that your changes
are conflicting with the traditions of the companies past, they will never be wholly behind you
and your new initiative. Instead of struggling against, use the past to your advantage. Enact the
reforms you have devised but give them the comforting appearance of older events and
traditions. (Green 1998)
As can be seen, the implementation of change through persuasion and indirect means has
many complexities that must be acknowledged. While to some it may seem a daunting task to go
into such depth and detail about people within a work environment but, it is necessary for the
survival and greater success of the company. The leader of a company must be keenly aware of
the complex social environment that they oversee because if they are not, how can they hope to
navigate through today’s market competition? It is just as the fifth century general Sun Tzu
wrote: Know yourself, know your enemy and you will need not fear the result of a hundred
48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene 1998
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