Change or Shift?

“Look,” I said, “if you want to fire this guy, or just cut him off at the knees, you don’t need this. Do this, only if you want to see him correct the misbehavior. Otherwise, just fire him and get it over with. You don’t need me for that.”

“I just don’t see any other way,” Alice stated flatly. “I gave Barry a list of about 15 things he needs to change if he wants to stay on the team.”

“What about the other five that didn’t make the list?” I grinned.

“You’re right, I guess I was piling on.”

“Look, if the solution seems difficult,” my grin disappeared, “what is the likelihood that Barry is going to jump in and make everything right?”

“Not much,” Alice replied.

“If you want to raise the probability that Barry will actually change his behavior, he has to truly believe that the solution will be easy for him. You have to break it down to its simplest terms so he can understand that we are not asking him to scale Mount Everest.”

“So, I need to just pick one thing he needs to change?” Alice said, narrowing her list.

“Instead of asking Barry to change, why don’t we start by asking him to shift. Shift is a lot easier than change.”

4 thoughts on “Change or Shift?

    1. Tom Foster Post author

      Pierre, thanks for your question. When I ask someone to change, they almost always resist. But we shift all the time, we rarely oppose a shift.
      “Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.” Dale Carnegie, principle 29

  1. Sharmil @ The Learning Academy

    I agree, Pierre. The difference between change and shift is very subtle, and the article seems to be a message for the teacher (in this case Alice). Shifting seems to mean asking Alice to connect a bridge between what Barry already knows to the new skill that Alice wants to teach. It’s called scaffolding in education. Shifting can be a powerful management tool like scaffolding is a powerful educational tool.

    1. Tom Foster Post author

      Thank you for your thoughts. Scaffolding is an excellent analogy for the bridge. I find in my coaching practice it is difficult to get people to change. Much easier to get them to shift. -Tom


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