Understanding and applying effective Change Management: Part Three engaging the head and the heart

Sep 25, 2014 • FeaturesManagementmanagementCHange Managementservicemax

Our exclusive series looking at Change Management written by Field Service News Editor Kris Oldland continues as we look at engaging with individuals on the emotional level to help reduce their fear of change... 

There is also a corresponding white paper on this subject, which you can access by clicking this link and completing the brief registration form.

In part one of this series we looked at understanding what is change management and what steps should be taken to achieve a successful change management process, referring to the 5 step approach taken by Sharon Moura when global safety and security firm Tycho implemented ServiceMax’s field service management platform.

Part two looked at the first of these steps i.e. assessing the change. Now in part three of this exclusive series we look at the second of these steps, which Moura defines as “Engaging the head and the heart”

As we mentioned in the opening feature of this series the key to implementing a successful Change Management project lies in understanding the simple maxim that Change Management is all about people and managing individual responses to change.

For a change management program to be successful it is absolutely vital we acknowledge that change is about individuals, not organisations. Yes, the change will be driven by organisational needs and requirements, but individuals will implement it, individuals will determine its success.

Successful change management is as much about feeling as it is about thinking

Given this notion we must next consider how individuals will react to change. Successful change management is as much about feeling as it is about thinking. This is one of the key principals in the Kotter Change Management philosophy and is one that Moura also believes is an important step.


“People change when they see a truth that influences their feelings, a picture of the opportunities ahead, that can connect to the head and the heart” Moura explained in a recent webinar hosted by ServiceMax.

“It’s less about what they read, it’s less about analysis. That informs their thinking but it doesn’t inform their feelings” So how can we tap into each individual’s feelings, to help them take the emotional leap of faith that change requires? (Remember our natural instinct is usually to shy way from change as it is often feels like the less riskier option).

Well at least some if not all of Robert Cialdini’s six principals of influence are worth considering. In his famous best selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Cialdini identified 6 principals that can be used to influence the decision making process of others. Each of which tap into emotional responses, rather than intellectual responses.

These principals are:


In layman’s terms the desire to pay back a favour. Let’s take an example here. A field service company decides that they need to roll out new mobile devices to their field engineers.

By involving a group of field engineers in the selection process on which devices the company will purchase, the company is showing these engineers that they are valued members of the team, that both they and their opinions are respected.

The engineers will likely feel a sense of gratification that the company sees them as such and in return for this show of respect, they will almost certainly reciprocate, becoming champions of the new technology amongst their peers when it is rolled out.

Commitment and consistency:

Cialdini believes we all have a deep desire to be consistent. So how does this sit with change when surely change is the antithesis of consistency? Well this doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

In fact the reason for change is often likely to be to uphold a core consistency of your organisation. For example – “our company has prided itself on being the market leader for over 25 years, and to help us continue to be the leading organisation in our sector we will be implementing a new system that will enable us to be more efficient in how we deliver and manage our field service operations”

Whilst effective change management will result in new cultures and processes being established, holding onto core company values isn’t mutually exclusive and this can be a powerful tool in negating the perception of change.

Social Proof:

Perhaps one of the most widely known of Cialdini’s principals, largely because it is the most evident in our day to day lives, is social proof. If we see others enjoying the benefit of change, it will make our decision to buy-in to the change so much easier on an emotional level.

Our natural herd mentality of ‘if it’s OK for them I guess it’s OK for me’ kicks in.

Remember that group of field engineers who are reciprocating the company’s faith in them by championing the change…


The next of Cialdini’s principals is again one that we all inherently know. We do things for and agree with people we like more than we do for people we don’t like. While it’s not the most ground-breaking statement in the world, it is undeniably true.

What is perhaps less obvious but still inherently true is that as a rule of thumb we tend to like people who are like us. Our peers are important influencers on us. Oh there’s that group of peer led champions again…


Cialdini asserts that we feel a sense of obligation to people in positions of authority. So we should bring the top bosses into the equation? But doesn’t that contradict points 3 and 4?

Well yes it does if we look at authority in the traditional manner. However, what is authority? More to the point who can speak with authority – continuing our example, perhaps someone who understands both the requirements and processes of the field engineers and someone who has already had actual hands on experience with the new devices?

Authority comes in many guises and our group of peer-based champions are on the horizon once more.


This final principal is perhaps the least likely to be incorporated into a traditional change management program as of course the end goal is to minimise the period of change as effectively and quickly as possible.

However, perhaps in the initial wave of roll out it could be good to promote the benefits so those that aren’t part of wave one are eagerly anticipating when they can be upgraded?

What we do see from the above example is that having a group of field engineers within the intial decision making process led to opportunities to meet at least five of Cialdini’s six principals. This group became champions for the Change Management program and what Moura refers to as a Change Agent Network something we will explore in the next feature in this series.

However, before we get to that point, lets explore just a little further how we can effectively engage with this group on the individual level, in both the head and the heart.

 In Moura’s own words:

“Think about using story telling as a way to engage the head and the heart, producing report after report or communication after communication will not help here at all.” [quote float="right"]Producing report after report or communication after communication will not help here at all.

“Individual conversations are effective, small group conversations are effective and you should be topping and tailing all communications with  - why is this changing and what is in it for me”


And it is in this last sentence that we find perhaps the ultimate persuasive tool i.e. “What’s in it for me” If we can understand the pain points of our employees, whether it be field based or office based staff, if we can show them a picture of how this Change Management program will help them eliminate these problems in their daily lives, if we can show them that this change is as much about investing in them and making their lives easier as it is about increasing efficiency etc, then they are almost certainly going to be feel more open to the change.

If we get there, then we are on the right track for getting the emotional buy-in we need from these individuals to make this whole change management project a success.

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