Note: A few months ago, a college ministry approached me for help. It wanted to inspire its people to pray more. This post is based on the advice I gave.
Let’s say you’re the director of prayer for a college ministry.
One of your goals is to motivate your people to pray more. But this isn’t easy. Everyone seems to be as busy as ever. They have endless choices for spending their time. And “praying more” doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern. To be successful, you have to change their behaviors.
According to Harvard Medical School, change is a process, not an event. Lasting change doesn’t happen quickly or haphazardly. Sure, you can try to change—do something different for a little while—but unless you plan the change process, it will probably fail.
So what can you do? Here are 8 steps to inspiring change in your organization.
The process of change takes planning. A jolt of inspiration might be the catalyst for the idea of change, and it can infuse creativity and passion into the process. But inspiration alone can’t carry the change. Intention has to take over where inspiration falls short. A well-planned change process will meet the objections and signal to others that you’re serious about it. Planning is a best practice for success.
Idea: Take your time to plan a comprehensive change process, thinking about every step.
Make a visible statement that it’s a new season. Do something memorable rather than just announcing it. Create a sensory experience that transcends the intellect. Stir emotions. This magnifies the importance of the change and declares that things are going to be different. It also shows intentionality.
Idea: Create a blog or online forum for sharing thoughts connected to the change.
If you’re not living the change, why should others? Leading change is living the change out loud. How can you ask them to do something that you’re not willing to do? Your appeal will fall short and you’ll lose credibility if you don’t adopt the change yourself. You’ve got to be the biggest fan of your proposal. If you’re not convinced, they won’t be.
Idea: Share openly about your own efforts to live the change.
Change is about personal cost and value. When a change is proposed, the natural response is, “How will this affect me?” Next comes a cost and benefit analysis, even if it’s informal and instantaneous. People want to know what the change will cost them and what benefits they’ll receive—this is value. As one who is living the change out loud, you’re in a good position to demonstrate the value. Don’t just explain the value—demonstrate it.
Idea: Show the value to you personally.
Ambiguity creates inaction. If people are confused about what you’re saying, they won’t act. Be very clear about what you’re asking them to do. Rehearse your appeal. Wordsmith it. Clarify. Simplify. Leave no room for misunderstanding.
Put yourself in their position. They’re hearing this for the first time. They haven’t bought into the value yet. They haven’t immersed themselves in the change process like you have. Understand your audience and deliver the appropriate message.
Idea: State in writing exactly what you’re asking your people to do.
Identify tools to help your people be successful. Calling for change and not providing help is like telling someone she’s sinking in quicksand, but not doing anything about it. It’s cruel and short-sighted.
But if you provide tools to help them through the change, there’ll be a higher rate of adoption. It shows them you know change is a challenge, but you care about their success.
Idea: Provide tools to help your people.
In addition to tools, offer a short term incentive that will motivate the people until the benefits can be realized and demonstrated. Once the value is being reaped, the incentive can be removed. The goal of the incentive is to take the focus off the pain that change brings.
The incentive ought to be related to (or at least not in opposition to) the appeal. It also has to be personal. Your people will be asking, “What’s in it for me?”
Idea: Find a way to incentivize what you're asking them to do.
Finally, decide how to measure success. Exactly how will success be measured? It’s one thing to call for change, but if you don’t have a way to measure success tangibly, you won’t know if you’ve reached your goal--and no one else will either. What’s the point then? Don’t skip this critical step.
Idea: Survey people after your change campaign to measure its effects.
Yes, leading change is hard. But you can motivate your organization if you follow the right steps.