People have a tough time changing their behavior, even when it might mean saving their lives. According to the American Heart Association, many Americans diagnosed with heart disease fail to make changes suggested by their doctor. 

Getting employees to make changes at work can be even more difficult. Culture change requires shifting deep-rooted beliefs to impact behaviors—similar to losing weight or quitting smoking.

Those who have successfully changed their lifestyle routinely met with a doctor or nurse to discuss their progress and receive support. Likewise, the key to successful culture change is for managers to take on the role of trusted advisor, to support employees in changing their behavior through dialogue.

Here are some tips on how to prepare managers for their role:

1. Build managers’ knowledge of culture change.
We assume that managers know “why” we have to change, but often they don’t have enough information to explain it to employees. Managers need to understand why the old way of doing things is not working, and how changing the culture is essential for success. Make sure managers are well versed on the specifics of how the change will be rolled out and how it will impact their team members, by holding information sessions or creating a communication toolkit.

2. Use scenarios to help employees visualize change.
The best way for employees to envision change is through real-life scenarios. Encourage managers to use examples of daily work issues that employees can identify with. “We want to be more customer-focused, and here is an example of how we are going to do this.” This approach will make it easier for managers to explain what change looks like and how employees can take action.

3. Encourage managers to make dialogue part of their routine.
In times of uncertainty, employees rely on their manager to answer questions and respond to concerns, but it’s hard to find time to sit down and talk. Discussions about culture change can be incorporated into regular staff meetings or employee one-on-ones. Face-to-face sessions are a great opportunity to discuss challenges and areas for improvement.

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