There is an important distinction when it comes to implementing change: technical and adaptive change.
Most companies — and people — are great at technical change. Put together your five PowerPoint slides and detail how the world will now operate. Yet, one year later, despite the proclamation of change, nothing has changed.
Most articles you read on the Internet are also about technical change — including many of the articles here on Cube Rules. I can tout the reasons you “Write Your Performance Review with Facts” or how to answer the “forced choice interview question.”
Yet, technical change, with it’s “five steps to do everything you want” doesn’t really get you to change. Instead, you need to have adaptive change. Adaptive change is one where your behaviors change to the point where the behaviors become habit.
Unless you build in behaviors that are automatic, you won’t really change. You’ll read the “fives steps to do everything you ever wanted,” think that those five steps are really good ones, and tell yourself that you’ll need to do them. But actually doing them for 30-days so doing the five steps become habit?
Not so much. And without the adaptive change, you won’t change your job, your career or improve your life.
The key to starting adaptive change is this: take the advice you find so inspiring and write down what you need to do next to start the process. As All Things Workplace notes in “I’ll change if you tell me what you really want“:
Manager: “I really think all of these things we discussed today are important. I just need to know one thing: “What, exactly, do you want me to do?”
President: “ ” (yes, that was the response).
As the President’s consultant, I learned a lesson that I haven’t forgotten: Visionary changes can be captured with images and big picture ideals; Behavioral changes need to be grounded in the specific.
Make your changes specific so that people know what to do and can tell whether or not they got it right.
You start by getting the guiding steps to your specific actions to take and build from there.
If you are looking at your current situation and are not happy, have you tried changing? If you’ve tried changing and it’s not working, have you mastered technical change and missed getting to adaptive change?
Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. Join the Cubicle Club mailing list here.