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7 Things About Change Management and Learning You May Not Know


Change is learning. Learning is change. The ability to change and learn (and help others do so) is essential in today’s fast-changing world. Organizations must continuously adapt and evolve to remain competitive. But how do you become more change-capable? What can you do to become a better learner? And how are these two processes related?

Erika Andersen prepares leaders to meet whatever the future may bring. She helps them with visioning, strategy, team development, leadership development, and change management. In her latest book, Change From The Inside Out, she goes right to the heart of what makes major change work (or not work), and we discuss it in this episode. These are our 7 favorite takeaways on change, learning, and everything in between.

1. Learning and change have a lot in common

Learning and change management

While learning and change are not the same, there is a lot of overlap. If you are change-capable, you will become a better learner. And vice versa. 

In a way, learning to do things differently and acquiring a new skill are all part of a change process. And one of the most important skills in those novel situations is to be willing to be bad first before you get good at it. Not everything will be perfect at first. It’s a question of trying, practicing, iterating, and adapting.

2. Learning and change are not a destination, but a process

Change Management Process

With both learning and change, there is really no destination. They are processes. They are never-ending paths. The sooner you realize that, the better at learning, changing, and leading change you will get.

"When will I finish my training?" is a question we often get from English learners. The truth is, it could never end. There is always room for improvement. You can set goals and milestones, but your willingness to keep growing is what will help you succeed. Understanding that learning is an ongoing process is a trait of people with a growth mindset. If you’ve gone from, ‘Are we done yet?’ to ‘What’s next?’, then you also have a growth mindset and are ready to learn and change. 

3. If you're not uncomfortable, you're probably not learning anything

Learning is uncomfortable

Learning and adapting are uncomfortable (that’s why it’s called ‘getting out of your comfort zone’). They don’t need to be painfully excruciating. But if you're not uncomfortable (at least a little), you're most likely not learning anything. 

When you are in a new situation or learning something, accept the discomfort and be willing to be a novice.

4 - Traveling increases your ability to adapt and learn

Traveling makes you adaptable

Travel impacts the way you navigate different situations and uncertainty. When you visit different countries and cultures, you are exposed to new experiences. You have to rapidly adapt to changes in your surroundings. 

What you thought was “the way” of doing things turns into “a way” of doing them. You realize that there are many other successful ways of approaching a situation. This is true when it comes to food, communication, manners, and thought process. We all do it differently. And it works for (most) of us. 

Learning a language also rewires your brain. You learn that there are at least two perfectly acceptable (yet entirely different) ways to name an object or an activity. 

Immerse yourself in different cultures. Accept other realities. Interact with diverse groups of people. Communicate with people different from you. Travel, even if only virtually, and you will become more prone to adapt and learn.

5 - You can become a better learner by shifting your mindset 

Become a better learner

Learning is hard. Especially for adults. As kids, we were used to being bad all the time. We would try time after time until we got it right. But we didn’t mind falling down. We just got up and moved on.

But by the time we become adults, we are good at doing some things. We get comfortable, and going back to being bad is hard. The good news is - adults can learn. They can be good learners. It just takes a mindset shift. In her book Be Bad First, Erika explains how the best way to be willing to be bad is self-talk. It consists of accepting that you are going to be bad for a while. Understanding that you’ve never done it before but that you will get good at it if you try hard enough. 

That mindset shift is a process that Erika explains in her latest book, Change From The Inside Out. Our brains tend to reinforce negative beliefs when we learn something new. We often find it difficult, costly, weird, or a mix of them. Your goal is to turn those into easy, rewarding, and normal. People will do new behaviors if they believe they will be: 

  • Easy (“I know how to do it and there aren’t any big external impediments)
  • Rewarding (“It will give me things I value”)
  • Normal (people who are like me or who I admire do it). 

Your goal is to shift your thinking and take a more positive approach. From "I can't do this, it's too difficult" to "I can certainly do this". Or, at least, to “I’m not sure how to do this but I can figure it out”.

6 - You can’t change values but you can change the perspective

Change the perspective

Are you leading organizational change? Be smart about how to present the information. Some cultures are more rooted in tradition and people have a negative frame about change. How do you go about change there? Let’s say you are trying to implement a big change in a culture that values tradition. You can’t really change values, as they are deeply wired into people. Well, it is possible, but it takes time and disruptive social change. 

So what you can do is shift the frame of tradition to stability, as those two values are usually related. The difference is that stability won’t get in the way of change (as you may be making a specific change to be more stable). Then, you can start a whole different conversation about how culture can support change. Developing your storytelling skills will also help you frame your message effectively.

7 - Communicating change effectively is essential in organizational change management

Communicating change effectively

Effective change leadership is only possible through effective communication. It needs to be a two-way street, so make sure you are not only talking, but also listening. 

Communication starts with active listening.

Being able to speak clearly about the change is important, but even more so is being able to listen. Not just hear what your team says, but truly listen actively. Make an effort to understand what your team’s concerns and needs are at different points. 

At this stage, don’t try to reassure people, talk about their concerns, or explain why they shouldn’t be upset. Just listen. Take it in. Ask questions. Summarize. Listen to people all the way through and they will be more receptive to your guidance. 

Clarify the change and why it’s needed.

The first step once you’ve listened to your team is to increase understanding. Oftentimes during organizational change, employees are not given enough information. It takes time to clarify what the change is about and what it’s needed, but it is absolutely essential.Clarify the scope of the change, as well as its risks and rewards. And clarify them with precision. Answer the questions:

  • What does this mean for me?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What will it look like when it's done?

The more context, understanding, and clarity about the change that you can share with your people, the more receptive and ready they will be for the change. Your goal is to create a picture of success that seems attainable and attractive.

Over communicate. Never assume people already know.

When people don’t have enough information, they make it up. They complete the picture with their own resources. They fill the gaps with the information they’ve heard from others. And combine it with their imagination. The result? A half reality that may or may not be aligned with your change goals. 

Don’t assume that telling people once is enough. The more guidance they have, the easier it will be for you to implement your initiative. So be ready to have many conversations about the project and keep repeating key points.

Reinforce priorities.

Wend to assume that changing means that nothing remains the same. And that is overwhelming. Your role, as a leader, is to reassure them and highlight what will change and what won't. Give them a limited set of priorities where you include those aspects of their life and role that will be the same. This will soothe them and help them understand the situation better.

Wrapping up

This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode 57, where we discuss these highlights more in-depth and Erika shares many other wonderful insights. Listen to the conversation on Spotify and read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.

About Erika

Erika Andersen PhotoErika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus, a coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness. She and her colleagues support leaders at all levels to get ready and stay ready to meet whatever the future might bring. Erika advises senior executives in companies like Spectrum, Revolt Media, Spotify and Amazon on organizational visioning and strategy, team development, and their own evolution as leaders. Erika also shares her insights through her books, speaking engagements and social media. In addition to her latest book, Change from the Inside Out, she is the author of four previous best-selling books: Be Bad First, Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic and Growing Great Employees. Erika is also a popular leadership blogger at, and the creator and host of the Proteus Leader Show, a top-rated podcast that offers quick, practical support for leaders and managers. You can connect with Erika on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @erikaandersen.

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Talaera Talks - Transcript Episode 57

If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. Listen to it on your favorite platform.

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Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we're going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!

Simon Kennell 0:24
Welcome back to another episode of Talaera Talks. My name is Simon and as always, wherever you are, I hope you're having a great day. Paola, are you having a great da - a great summer?

Paola Pascual 0:37
I'm having a wonderful summer. It's always great here. It's not too hot at the moment. It's just that perfect mix of warm and slightly breezy. So it's great. How's your summer going in Denmark?

Simon Kennell 0:50
Well, it's, it's warm enough to be outside, which is nice. And it's raining today. But otherwise, you know what, it's we have our beautiful days here in there. So you know, we just have to be thankful for what we get. But But yeah, so we were just talking about how excited you are about today's guest. And we will jump in as usual, I'll do a little introduction. This is always kind of the embarrassing part for most of our guests. But I'll try to go fast. But there's so much interesting and amazing stuff here that I have to kind of read through it. Erika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness. Erika advises senior executives in companies like Spectrum, Revolt, Spotify, and Amazon on organizational visioning and strategy, team development, and their own evolution as leaders. So her writing, which we're going to talk about today, has been translated into multiple languages, including Turkish, German, French, and Chinese. And her in addition to her latest book, which is the one we're going to speak primarily about today, Change From the Inside Out. She's also the author of four previous best selling books, Be Bad First, which that I think I love that title, Leading So People Will Follow, Being Strategic and Growing Great Employees. Erika is also a popular leadership blogger at And the creator and host of the Proteus Leader Show, which I definitely want to check out, a top rated podcast that offers quick practical support for leaders and managers. Erika, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Erika Andersen 2:46
Thank you. Wonderful. You guys are talking about your summer. So I'm, I'm in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City in New York. It's absolutely gorgeous, as I demonstrate to you guys by turning my computer around, so you can see.

Simon Kennell 2:58
Oh yeah, a lot of green, a lot of green.

Paola Pascual 3:01
It looked lovely.

Simon Kennell 3:03
Yeah. And so and so you're calling from New York, but you actually yourself just spent some time in Spain. Is that right?

Erika Andersen 3:13
Por supuesto, sí, claro!

Simon Kennell 3:17
All right, Paola, you're gonna have to translate there for me. What did she say?

Paola Pascual 3:21
She was there. She was there, for sure.

Simon Kennell 3:23
Yeah, there you go. I gotta get down there. I gotta get down there. But um, I'm wondering, and I kind of want to dive into all of the questions. I know, we have so much that we'd like to talk with you about today. But I'm wondering kind of just to kind of get off the bat about your travel from your own experiences. And I mean, do you Would you consider yourself pretty well traveled? Is that been a big part of your life?

Erika Andersen 3:48
Um, I would consider myself fairly well traveled not? Yeah. Yes, I haven't. There are some continents I haven't visited. I haven't been to Africa. But yeah, I love to travel. And and, yes, I love just experiencing other cultures and how people operate and what they, you know, all that I love it.

Simon Kennell 4:09
And how do you feel like this travel... Because I feel travel for me has really impacted kind of the way that I, I don't know... Navigate situations or navigate uncertainty. Do you feel like travel has had that impact on yourself as well?

Erika Andersen 4:26
That's a great insight. I feel like most of the people who I know who, like travel, have, have worked on themselves to become more comfortable within uncertain situations, because travel is definitely lots of uncertainties on various levels and the people that I know, who don't like travel there, that's whether or not they say that it looks to me as an observer that the main reason they don't like it is because there's too much uncertainty and thinks are two different and I don't know, not only just in the, you know, the kinds of mechanisms of travel, but also just like, oh, that person responded differently than I would have expected or the I'm not eating the same food, you know, just it's different, which is the thing I like about it.

Paola Pascual 5:18
I agree. And it happens, right when you when you travel, you may have heard your parents say, that's not how you do things. You're supposed to do them this way. And then you travel. And then you see how other people are doing it differently with a successful outcome. So you're like, oh, wait, there is a different way. That is also nice that it works. Apart from the one that I was used to. So I guess this ties back to the topic that we'll be talking about today, like you're more prone to change, or at least to be open minded to other ways of doing things.

Erika Andersen 5:47
That's exactly right. I also think that's one of the great things about learning another language, maybe even more learning in other languages and adult because it just really rewires your brain. It's like, there are at least two perfectly acceptable entirely different ways to name this object or to name this activity. You know, and I think that's great for your brain.

Simon Kennell 6:08
Yeah, yeah. And it is that kind of keeping that, you know, you have to continually kind of sharpen the saw, I guess, in that sense. You know, and I love that as well, with the ambiguity aspect of being in a different culture and traveling and kind of, it's not just right there easy to grasp, and that, you know, it is uncomfortable, right, which I'm sure you have dealt with so much in your career, and in your consulting work of working with people to handle that ambiguity to handle that kind of uncomfortable period and whether it be changed or what have you, right?

Erika Andersen 6:50
Yeah, totally. Yeah. In fact, somebody once years ago said to me, if you're not at least slightly uncomfortable, you're probably not learning anything.

Simon Kennell 7:02
I want all of our students right now to take notes on that exact thing right there. I love that. And so as I was going through your, your book, and we definitely want to get more into it, but kind of one of the big things that right, really quickly jumped out to me was, where do we kind of make this distinction between, like, change and learning, right? So so how are you viewing these two concepts? Or are they so much of an overlap with each other, that they're kind of one in the same?

Erika Andersen 7:34
There's a huge amount of overlap. And in fact, my last book before this one, the one that you liked the title, so much Be Bad First, is about how to be a master learner. And I talked through this through the book about these four mental skills that I've seen good learners use people who are in learning in the sense of muscular learning, I don't mean just like, Oh, no, I know, this TV show, you know, no, it's like learning actually learning to do things differently, learn to operate differently, learning new skills and capabilities, new ways of thinking. And the most important in some ways, the most difficult of those four skills we call willingness to be bad first, therefore the name of the book. And it's when you're, when you're in a new situation, or when you're learning something new, you have to be willing to be a novice, you have to be willing to not be good at it. And I think that's the biggest overlap between learning and change. It's like if I'm in a new situation, and you know, my organization is changing the way it's structured. And I'm going to report to a whole new person reporting into a different part of the organization. I'm not going to be great at that to begin with, I've never done it before. So I have to be okay with being that first. There's, so there's huge overlap between learning and change, I think.

Paola Pascual 8:54
Do you have any, any advice on how you can start being comfortable with that? That's really, really easy. Like, it's easy to say, right? But it's really hard thing to do, especially for adults?

Erika Andersen 9:06
Totally. Especially for adults. That's exactly right. Probably because once we've gotten good at a bunch, I mean, if you're if either of you around little kids, I've just spent the weekend with my three and a half year old grandson, you know, and every he's bad all the time. He's, he's fine with it. He doesn't know how to do anything. It's learning how to do everything on a daily basis, right. But by the time we get to be adults, and we're good at some stuff, we don't want it we don't like going back to being that it's hard, right? And the... What I've discovered is what you guys have also read in the change book is that it really is the core of it is a mindset shift. It's how we choose to think about the situation. So one of the things I talked about in the Be Bad First book is the best way to be willing to be bad is this self talk, which is a balance of I am going to be bad at this for a while, because I've never done it, right? It's crazy that we expect ourselves to be good at things we've never done. So if you start out by saying yourself, I'm going to be bad at this for a while. And I'm pretty sure I can get good at it. I've gotten good at a lot of stuff. And that is such a good balanced self talk about this now, and I know I can get good at it. It really like you, you can almost feel the white noise in your head going down when you start talking to yourself like that. And then you can just put your attention on learning.

Paola Pascual 10:31
I love that. And I there's a part of your book where you were talking about self talk, and how you can shift your mindset. And I really like know, when you have all these negative thoughts, well, you actually provide a little roadmap right, where you start by listening, actually listening, actively listening to yourself, and you write it down. And I really liked how realistic you were that and there was a part that I remember, you said, you don't need to go from negative to positive, it's already a good step to go from negative to neutral.

Erika Andersen 11:04
And it's it's true when you're learning anything new. And it's especially as you pointed out is true and change. You know, the one I talked about this change arc and in the change book, and that's, you know, it's interesting to sort of tangent for a minute. One, one of the things that makes me happiest in my life, is to crack codes for people in a way that makes them more capable. And when I got to this change arc thing, and really understood that, oh, I really, this really seems to be helping to change. And the heart of that was this shifting your mindset from thinking that this change any change, but this change that's confronting you right now is going to be difficult, costly and weird, and talking to yourself that way, and shifting and shifting your mindset, changing your self talk to where you're thinking, you know, I can see how this could be, maybe isn't now, but could be easy, or at least doable, to your point of neutral, rewarding, more rewarding than costly, and normal, you know, and the power of being able to do that when I can help people understand when we can help people understand that you have the power to make that shift inside your own mind. And that that is the core of becoming more change capable, that just makes me so happy. I love being able to help people in that way.

Paola Pascual 12:26
It's so powerful. It's so powerful for any kind of change and learning, Simon you're making that that connection as well between change and learning. Especially for like, for for our listeners with language learning, you need to be okay to make mistakes. And that's that's the only way to actually change your your habits, your communication habits and actually learn and achieve your goals. So that's very powerful.

Simon Kennell 12:53
I was just gonna say such a such a big part of this, though is is that feeling of comfortability in, in making a mistake? Right. So Erika, when you work with leaders, I mean, what is that like to kind of work with a leader and executive in a company that has done, you know, that is operated at the top level for their entire career and has always been, you know, the go to person? And now they're in this position where they have to, yeah, be bad, right? They have to give that up. And to be willing to do that. I mean, how much of that is is from what you've seen is a is an ego struggle? A worry struggle? I mean, where like, how do you navigate that with that person?

Erika Andersen 13:46
That's a great question. So I always feel like I can explain everything with a bell curve and Venn diagram, you can do those two things. I could explain anything, right. So in what you're talking about, there's a bell curve in very senior people, and at the top of the bell curve are people who somehow have figured this out for themselves that like, I'm really great at some stuff. And I'm really terrible at some stuff. And I'm really knew to some other stuff. And that's just the way it is. And they really accept that. And those people in my experience, are, they're very fortunate that somehow they've learned this in their life because they are better leaders. And they are especially they're better leaders in times of high change. Last couple of years during the pandemic, their organizations changing quickly, because they know they're going to be bad. It's like the self talk I was just talking about, they say to themselves, somehow they figured out how to save themselves. I'm okay, I'm bad at this. Now. I know and get better at it. And it's not they're fine with it. And then there's the other end of the bell curve with people have you do you guys know about Carol Dweck work about fixed and growth mindset? And its fixed mindset. It's like I'm as good as I'm gonna get. So I better convince myself that I'm great. And they're just stuck in It's very hard for those people to say I really, really got to unpack them from there, you know, but most of us live somewhere in the middle and can be helped to get better can be helped to get more to become more flexible in our thinking, to become less self punishing, when we're bad at something, you know. And so that's, so a lot of, especially when I coach individual leaders, I try and sort out early on where they are in that bell curve. So I know where to start with them to help them get better at being bad at stuff. You know.

Simon Kennell 15:36
Was there an influence that? I mean, were you did you? Do you always feel like you were at that kind of end of the bell curve that was very changed capable in your life? Or do you feel like, this has been something that you kind of adapted and developed throughout your life?

Erika Andersen 15:52
That is a wonderful question. I feel like maybe you guys can relate to this. I was talking to my daughter in law about this last night because she, she felt the same way my daughter in law is her mom is Haitian, and her dad was Neapolitan. And so mixed race child of immigrants grew up in New York City, so she always felt kind of different from everybody else. And even though I'm just a white lady, I felt that too. When I was a kid, I just felt so different than everybody else. I remember being in grade school and kind of looking around and going, Whoa. This is not like me, you know, and so I think early on as a child, it was like, oh, okay, I'm gonna have to find a path because the path everybody else is on doesn't seem like that's the right path for me. So, so I think some of that feeling of unusualness was helpful for me from early on, trying to figure things out. But also my dad, I have to say, was absolutely marvelous, and the most curious person I have ever known. And so that was a wonderful model to have. I mean, like, we I remember, I remember this. So clearly, I was maybe five or six, and we had gone on a vacation. I grew up in Nebraska. We were on vacation in western Nebraska, we were in a diner. And my dad started tying that waitress and got completely focused and into it because she, she and her husband actually had a farm. My dad was really interested in farming, for whatever reason, he was a lawyer. But he also just thought it was fascinating that she was helping support the family by being a waitress, and she had to leave. Formerly, they had this long involved conversation, you know, this waitress in Skyler, Nebraska, because he was just curious, he just wanted to know. And that was a fantastic model for me growing up because curiosity is, you know, jet fuel for learning and change for sure. That's a long answer.

Paola Pascual 17:50
And so we were talking right before about, and I think it's a fascinating story, like your influences, and, and we were also just talking about leadership and change. And, and I wonder, especially for those listening, what is the relationship? Like, what is the role of a leader in change? What does it have to do being, you know, a change agent for it when it comes to becoming a good leader?

Erika Andersen 18:14
Oh, that's great. I always when I'm talking to leaders who are helping people through change, and want to become good leaders of change, which I think now all leaders have to be because of why everything's happening. I always say, think about that thing they tell you, or unmask before attempting to help others, you know, and I feel like the main thing that leaders have to do is get good at their own mindset shift. Get good at becoming more change capable themselves, knowing how change works, knowing how, okay, so I'm gathering up this information and proposed change, right? What does this mean for me? Why is it happening? What will look like, working, being capable of shifting their mindset from thinking this is going to be difficult, costly and weird to this is going to be easy or doable, rewarding, normal, that if you, if you as a leader can get good at that yourself... First of all, then you're on the kind of farsighted that curve when you turn to your people. But also you can speak to them from your own experience of what it's like to go through change, which is so powerful, you know, if you if when leaders can say authentically their people, you know, when I first heard about this, I was worried about it, too. I was worried about how much time it was gonna take and I wasn't sure I could do it. And I wasn't even sure it was the right thing. And then I just I thought myself through it. That's powerful to be able to say that, right?

Paola Pascual 19:45
Of course. Yeah. And, and then my other question would be and it's really aligned with what you were we were just talking about is to what extent do you think communication skills help you be a good leader through change or a good change agent?

Erika Andersen 20:03
I think they're absolutely essential. And not just when people unfortunately, when people hear the word communication skill, they think it just means talking, right? I think being able to speak clearly about the change is important. But it's much more important to be able to listen well being a good two way communicator to really, God listening, especially we talk about and you guys may remember this from the book, these four change levers that you as a leader to help people. And I can just go through them, and one of them is especially germane to what we're talking about. So the first one is increase understanding. Because lots of times in organizational change, people just are not given enough good information. They're not given that information that we all want to know about change. What does this mean, for me? Why is it happening? What will it look like when it's done? So the more context and understanding and clarity about the change that you can share with people that really helps them to their change arc. So that's thing one, the second change lever is clarify and reinforce priorities. And the reason we found this is important is because during change, people assume the worst off and one of the things they assume is that everything is changing, oh my god, nothing's gonna stay the same, which is almost never the case. Right? So if you as a leader can say, okay, here are you still like, if you're a salesperson, let's say there's, you know, a sales force, and they're changing the CRM that they use, right? They're going from maybe using Salesforce to something else. And all sales people are like, Oh, my God, everything's changing. And so for the sales leader, come and say, No, you've got the same clients, you've got the same targets, we're still going to be organized geographically, we're just the way we process the information about those relationships is going to change. That's all that's going to change. That's super helpful and soothing to people to know what is actually changing what's not. So that's why that clarify and reinforce priorities is important. The third one is give control. And that's, that's a really important one, when you guys, I'm sure we've all experienced this, when you're in in an organizational change, often, you kind of feel like you're a victim of it, it's sort of being an to you, you know, so the more control you can give people, the more agency you can give them, the more choices you can allow them to make. When are you going to do this? How do you want to do this? How should we communicate this to your people, and even about the change itself? So this is what we're planning on doing? What concerns you have, what does your knowledge lead you to believe might be difficult about this, the more control you can give people about the change, the easier it is for them to get to that place where they can see it as easy and rewarding and normal. So that's, that's big. And a lot of times leaders have what we can't give people any control. That's never the case, you can always give people some choices and some agency, right? Do you agree with that?

Paola Pascual 23:08
100%. And this is this is really aligned as well, with the with. I told you before with all the research that I have done for my master's thesis on organizational change, and and it's really you've been listing them exactly how I had them in my head. So that's amazing, like, increase understanding and hear with I also wanted to quickly add on to that I feel when when we are in a management position, we assume that people know, and we have to reiterate, we have to repeat. And it's almost like a one to 10 ratio for, for people to understand it once. And clearly, you might have to repeat it 10 times to actually get the message across.

Erika Andersen 23:50
Really! I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with leaders where they go boy, we already I'm like, Dude, you told them once, you're gonna have to have many more conversations about this, right?

Paola Pascual 23:58

Erika Andersen 24:00
Then the fifth one, which really, really has to do with what you're saying is give support. And at the beginning of a change, the most important support you can give is listening, which comes all the way back around to what you were talking about communication and really listening. Don't try and reassure people don't try and talk about their concerns. Don't try and explain to them why they shouldn't be upset. Just really listen, listen, take it in, ask questions, summarize. So you're concerned that this is going to be this is going to take a lifetime? Yes. Okay. You know, and if you and one of the things I've seen is if you listen all the way down through a concern to where people are like, Yeah, you got it, then they're ready for more practical kinds of support, then they're ready for you to go. Okay, can I walk you through the new workflow? Well, that you're worried that you don't understand it? Well, that'd be helpful. Can I tell you about the training we have set up Can I hook you up with this mentor that we have? And at that point, If the person has been listened all the way through, they're probably ready for that kind of support. But what happens is the leader is trying to jam that kind of support in before they've actually listened through the problems that people are having with it. Right?

Simon Kennell 25:15
Do you think that that's a a symptom of leaders being afraid of getting pushed back? Or do you think it's just a speed factor? Or I mean, what have you seen mostly in kind of where where leaders most often fail? You know, through this through this process of, they're trying to push it too fast? Or they just Yeah, tell him once, you know, what, what do you see that really stands out?

Erika Andersen 25:43
Most of the things you're talking about are result I think of, and I talked about this a lot in the book, I don't know if you guys remember, there's one graphic in the book, it took me a long time to get the designer to understand what I was trying to say, where it's the five steps of the change process that we use, and it shows people going through their change arc at different times a lot, right. So was, so what happens often is that a leader will hear it, he or she will hear about a change at point A right early on and have a chance to go through their own process where they, you know, make their shift. And they like they've gotten to the point where they get it, they have all the information they need, they feel pretty good about it. And then what happens is they turn to their people and start communicating. And somehow magically, they expect that their people are going to be where they are after three months, the first moment they hear it. So I think understanding that change art is so helpful for leaders, because then you can say, look, that thing that you had to go through, whenever you heard about the change, whatever it was thing, remember what you went through, that's now what your folks are going to have to go through. So give them the time, given the support, given the listing, help them through that. So I think I think Simon, it's mostly just this weird, we, we literally forget what we went through. And we think that our people should be just like that, you know, go through it in five minutes. So so it's helpful having this frame to remind leaders that okay, you are now helping your folks through their change arc. And here's what that looks like. And it will take some time and just breathe deeply. And, you know, this is normal. They're not change resistant. They're not bad. They're just they just got to go through their own process.

Paola Pascual 27:35
So true. Ee forget right? It's easy to forget.

Simon Kennell 27:43
I wonder if it's an AI because you know, myself with a background in HR, I just, I find it really interesting how there's kind of these these themes in hiring are these kind of, yeah, I guess taglines, I guess we would use. I mean, we work in tech. And so a lot of times we talk about agile organizations, we talk about flexible organizations. We talk about hiring people who are, you know, ready for change, and we use these kinds of this terminology. And, you know, what we've, what we've seen statistically, is a lot of times it it can exclude certain groups of people, right. And, and specifically that that comes a lot to where there's there can be age discrimination in hiring in in not only tech, but other industries, where the whatever the stereotype is that, oh, well, if we hire a more senior worker, they're not really ready for the change and the adaption and all of this, that that needs to happen. I mean, from my own personal experience, I think that that's, that's wrong. And from what I've seen, but has that been something that you've encountered in organizations that they feel like, more senior management is, you know, they're more difficult to have that change process? Or I mean, I don't know if that's been something that you've seen.

Erika Andersen 29:11
I've seen it in tech organizations. And I always try and push back push back against it. I think it's a not a justified assumption. There are certainly some people who are older who are stuck and don't like change, but there's 25 year olds who are stuck and don't like change. I really think it's much more individual than that. And so I mean, just in general, when I'm dealing with executives who make some kind of sweeping invalid assumption of any kind, I try and go, really? Let's think about that.

Simon Kennell 29:45
And so in then, so it boils down to those, that individual skill of how you're approaching that right of how you have that kind of that growth mindset. And I think that's either just I think that that's really that's really fascinating is that is, I heard you say this before, it's like the number one skill for the 21st century, you know, is how are you adapting to change, right? And how you can do that. And maybe that doesn't mean like, just learn to code or something like that. But it means, you know, how you can adapt, right?

Erika Andersen 30:20
Precisely. It means being change-capable in our lexicon, I love that word, is being able to move and thrive through change through change of any kind. And having that skill, I mean, look at our world. You know, I know people who were just blown up by the pandemic, because they just couldn't, it was too much change. And they've just retreated into some strange place in their head, it's, you know, and then I know other people of all ages and genders and ethnicities who are like, okay, let's, let's figure this out. It's a new world, let's make it work, you know.

Paola Pascual 31:00
And, in going back to your will add a link to your book from from our website. And I'd love for people to check it out. Because it's really there's lots of tips in there. Lots of examples, and it's great. But you did mention the five step change model. I'm wondering if we could have you could provide a quick summary or overview. And then and then I'm also super curious to know, from your perspective, how this works in different kinds of cultures where the, you know, the organization may be more hierarchical versus more egalitarian, does that even have an impact on on the model itself, and how it works?

Erika Andersen 31:41
I'm thinking of various organizations we've dealt with that different kinds of organizations present different challenges. Like a more hierarchical organization to something you said earlier, Simon, it's harder to convince leaders to to listen, and to be open to push back and to recognize that people need a voice because hierarchy is less about agency and voices. So you have to kind of lean into that in order to really make it work. Egalit– more egalitarian organizations are, in some ways, much simpler to help through change, because they're already like, we all have a voice. We're all trying to make this happen. But they're often messier. And so the nuts and bolts part of change, which is I mean, any change is really just like a big project, right? And in very loose or collaborative or egalitarian organizations, sometimes that's hard, because they resist the kind of rigor that you really have to have on a nuts and bolts level to create a big change. So, you know, they're different in their challenges. Does that make sense?

Paola Pascual 32:54
It does, it does. So what is it again, what is this five step change model for those who haven't, who haven't read the book yet.

Erika Andersen 33:01
So the five cent change model, the way we evolved it, it we my partner, Jeff and other consultant of ours, Carry, evolved the framework for it almost 15 years ago, when we first started doing change work with our clients. And it's interesting, because I just figured out the change art as read before I started writing the book. So in 2018-2019, and just I guess, reminds, the change arc is really lined up with the five step model, as you'll see when I want to talk you through it. And our how we think of the five step model is it's a way for an organization to cascade an organization through cascading organization through change, while attending to both the nuts and bolts practical side and the human side. So it's integrating those two things. So and you'll see it's really kind of lined up with the, with the changer. So the first step is clarify the change and why it's needed. Right. And that so often does not happen in organizations, people just kind of roll into it. And usually, there's what we've come to call a change initiation team. Usually, it's a pretty small senior group who's starting to think about it, you know, in the story that I have throughout the book, you know, with the moment jewelry, the person who really started thinking about it, as Jay, the daughter of the CEO is going to become the CEO and her cousin and one or two other people and they pulled it together the senior team, and then they start thinking about us. So their, their first job on behalf of the organization is to clarify the change and why it's needed. So that's the first step. And then the second step is envision the future state, what actually are we trying to get to and how will we measure if we've gotten there? That's the second step. And usually it's still this small team doing it on behalf of the organization. And you notice, so the first step in the change arc is proposed change and what we've found there The first things that people always want to know about a change are, what does this mean for me? Why is it happening and what will look like when it's done. And that's actually what you're figuring out in the first two steps of the change month. So it's all lining up, right? So then the third step is where you build the change. And you start bringing more people into the tent in a big organization. Usually, it's not the small senior team, that's going to be the actual change team. So they nominate a change team, who are people who are going to frame and then manage through the change. And you also think about other key stakeholders, people who, if they don't support the change, that could really get in the way of it. Because sometimes there are people who are neither super senior or on the change team. But they're really important stakeholders, like for instance, if you're going to do something, well, there's an example I used in the book of changing a production line in a manufacturing facility. So the head union steward would be a critical stakeholder, he or she could really get in the way of the change if they weren't on board. So you build that change team, you figure out who those stakeholders are, and start to buddy up with them and get on board. And then the last, the most important task of that third step is to actually build the change plan, build a project plan for the change. And as you know, in the book, I go about that, go into that and read quite a bit of detail, I could have written a whole book about that, but I didn't want to, you know, didn't want to get down into that. So then the fourth step, and this is the step that also almost never happens, or very rarely happens in organizational change, we call lead the transition. And it's the human side, it's where you figure out who in the organization is going to be most affected by this change? And how are they going to be affected? What's the ending and beginning for them? So how are you what, what are you how are you gonna use those for change levers to help them through their change are the groups of people that are gonna be most affected? And then you also think about just in general, the people who are less affected how you use the change arc to, I mean, change lovers to help them. So you figure out that what we call transition plan, and then you kind of put it on top of the change plan, the nuts and bolts change plan, and then you do them both together, the practical parts of it and the human support parts of it. And that we find is the most important thing to do for a change to be successful, to really think through and do simultaneously, the practical parts and the human supportive parts. Does that make sense?

Paola Pascual 37:26
I love that. And it's so crucial to, as you said, first identify the stakeholders, and then really, really, really understand that and build upon that. And then when you said lead the transition, we sometimes forget about humans, it sounds silly, but we sometimes forget about them. And how meaning is, is contract constructed, right? When they don't have enough leadership or they don't have enough meaning, then they start filling the gaps with what they've heard from hear, what they may imagine. So the more of a full picture they have, and the more guidance they have, then the easier it will be for you, as a manager or as a leader, to actually get to where you want to get.

Erika Andersen 38:09
That's a great way to frame it. That's exactly right. The more guidance, the more clarity, the more understanding and more support, the easier it is for them to go through their own change arc and actually behave in the new ways that change requires. And then step five, we call Keep the change going. And it's change always has unintended consequences. And too often in a big organizational change is like, Alright, we're done. Next! You know, but you got to stay with it, because it won't, won't all turn out the way you wanted it to. Because change is dynamic. And people are dynamic. So if you if you keep focused on it, you can see when something isn't working, and you can make a little subsidiary change. And often that's a great opportunity to give control to people, because often the place where the change is working properly. If you're listening, you'll get that from the organization. And then you can engage those people. Okay, what do we need to do secondarily, to make this keep working? The other thing that is very important in that fifth step is, you can look at the I talked about the organization is the bridge that people walk across to make a change. And that organization bridge is made out of systems and processes, structures and culture. So at this point in trying to do any big change, you can see if there are deep impediments in any of those areas, structure, you know, system or, or culture to change itself, because we all know that the change that you've just gone through is not going to be the only change, right? It's you're gonna keep changing. So, at that point, in step five, you can really address some of those underlying things like if you let's say that in the course of a big change, let's you know, this change of, let's say you're changing the production process of your main product, whatever it is that you Make, you may find that your culture is a change impediment that people really have a negative frame culturally about change. Because what you may have seen, for instance, is one of the, maybe not even explicit, but one of the underlying values is tradition, right? People really value tradition in your company, well, then, if you want to get better and better making change, you're going to have to shift that value. And you can't, you can't really completely change values because they're deeply wired into people. But what you can do is shift them to be more change accepting, like, for instance, you can shift it value of tradition where people value tradition, shift it to stability, because usually, when people love tradition, that's what they love, they feel like tradition is going to make them stable. But stable, stability is an okay value to have that won't get in the way of change, you can say, Oh, we're making this change in order to be more stable. So that aligns with that value that you have around stability. So we can have a whole different conversation about culture and how it either gets in the way of or supports change. But in that fifth step, you can look at some of those bigger organizational issues to make, make sure that you're setting yourself up for success in future changes. Does that make sense?

Simon Kennell 41:26
Yeah, definitely. I love the idea that change is not done just when you you know, press go on the on the project, right? And then that's that on to the next one. I mean, and that was actually something that I was thinking of earlier was, I mean, isn't this kind of consistently happening, right? Isn't this always happening, it's not just that we have this big, you know, change project in six months, and then we're gonna do it, and then we'll be done. And then we'll move forward. It's a consistent process, right. And that's exactly it. Skills kind of permeate through.

Erika Andersen 42:01
They permeate through. And that's what you want. Because, you know, most of the change books that I've been reading the last 20 years, they kind of, they're kind of based on this assumption, and okay, you're gonna pick the up of the organization, shake it around and set it back. And now we're done. You know, that's just not how it works anymore. So it's kind of like, you know, teaching people to fish versus giving them a fish, you, you really want at the end of any big change, there are two things you want to have happen. One is you want whatever the change was to be successfully implemented in the organization has accepted it. And you want the people involved to be more change capable.

Paola Pascual 42:38
And that mentality, I love it, it's also ties back to what we were talking about right at the beginning of learning. And understanding, you know, being okay with being bad was one of them. But also understanding that it's not, there's really no destination. It's a process. It's a path, it's a never ending path. So I think that mentality shift is also really important. It's not like we've had students and some of them have heard this question many times, when will I finish my English training? And it's like, you could finish tomorrow, and you would be good, like, you're okay. But you have to understand that you can always get better is that growth mindset that you were also mentioning, so be comfortable with not ever, you know, don't have that mentality of oh, there's a destination where I want to get to. You need to have milestones, but understanding that it's an ongoing process. It's also really, really important.

Erika Andersen 43:30
Precisely, and I've seen in organizations that we've worked with, there seems to be a kind of breakthrough, where where people get to the point where they, they go from thinking, Oh, are we done yet? Are we done changing? I'm changing now, to where they think all right. Okay, what's next? They know it's not going to stop.

Paola Pascual 43:51
That's it. What's next? I love that question. I think there are so many things that we can apply from this conversation that people can apply from a leadership perspective, but also from a personal perspective. We all have teams, we all want to influence people, sometimes we want to change something within our team. So there are so many tips that that you've provided today, Erika, and also in your book, so I really encourage people to to check it out. We'll add it to the to the comment section in the you know, in the podcast. I've also checked out your your podcast, I think it's great. The Proteus Leader Show I checked out the last episode, I think was called Stop Having Bad Meetings? So eelevant.

Erika Andersen 44:33
Greg here, and he's great. It's such simple, good advice. You know.

Paola Pascual 44:37
it was it was it was I think he gave he gave a three step strategy to have like to stop having that meeting. So for sure, I encourage our listeners to also listen to your podcast. I don't know if there's anything else you would like to bring up. This was a really interesting conversation for me personally, but I'm sure for everyone listening and And yeah, I thank you for your time, Erika.

Erika Andersen 45:02
Of course. Yeah, I guess the last thought I want to leave your listeners with is something that we said earlier, but it's so important that this is in your power, you have the power to change the way you think. And that is the most powerful power. And there's a wonderful, there's a quote, and it's been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, there was actually some stoic Greek philosopher who said it, I can't remember who. But the quote was, we can't always control our circumstances. But we can always control our reaction to those circumstances. And we we don't know that that's true a lot of times, but it is, you can always control your reaction to your circumstances. And that's what becoming change capable is all about. Controlling your reaction to your circumstances,

Paola Pascual 45:50
Actually believing that is so powerful.

Erika Andersen 45:53
Oh, my gosh, changes your life. Right?

Paola Pascual 45:56
It is. It does. It does. Awesome. Simon, is there anything else you would like to mention?

Simon Kennell 46:04
No, I just want to go and like, do some kind of task where I can just sit and think about all this, I might go in and do the dishes and just kind of think about this for the next 30 minutes. Erika, thank you so much. This was a I mean, really, really great. And such a treat. And I mean, we work with so many great leaders, you know, at Talaera. And this is such a huge part, not only Paola, what you said about organizational change, but you know, starting with the self right, and that's a that's a that's just a great part that I think Erika, you just really communicated very eloquently. So thank you so much for taking the time. And if people want to reach out or find you, they can find you on LinkedIn. And as well Proteus?

Erika Andersen 46:50
LinkedIn, the produce website, which is Proteus dash, at my website, which is just my And I was an early adopter of Twitter. So my Twitter handle is @erikaandersen. So I'm easy to find.

Simon Kennell 47:05
Nice, very nice, very nice. And that's that's one of the if you're listening, people, that's one of the great points about being open to change. You can get early on Twitter handle and then there you go, you're set. You can maybe sell that for a lot of money one day. Erika, no, thank you so much, that I think it was a great conversation. And to all of our listeners out there, stay in touch. Follow us along with our podcasts and LinkedIn. And as well, if you have any questions that we can pass along to Erika, we will be happy to do so. So thank you, all all of you today. And as always, to all of our listeners, keep learning.

Outro 5:55
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Business English Podcast