So today’s post celebrates the work of one of the game’s great mentors.
As a young man, Ray Miller was a baseball pitcher – and a good one.
He was talented enough to get drafted out of High School and rise to the AAA level of minor league ball.
Although he never made it to the Big Leagues as a hurler, Ray Miller did find his calling as a pitching coach. He served in that role with the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates where he helped several young stars reach the 20-win plateau. Three of his staff members even won the coveted Cy Young Award which is given to the League’s best pitcher each year.
It’s safe to say that Ray Miller knows a thing or two about throwing a baseball.
Coach Miller boiled down his gift for teaching the art of pitching into a simple six-word mantra which he pounded into the minds of his pitchers for decades:
“Work fast. Throw strikes. Change speeds.”
Based on his results, I’d say he got it right.
Change Agents can take a cue from Coach Miller as they work to help people adapt to change.
1. Work Fast: Come out of the gates with a bang and you’ll get the attention of those you seek to help. Establish a rhythm as you work and you’ll be in the game.
– Communicate the basis for the change.
– Explain the rationale.
– Give people a place to go if they have questions.
– Once your change initiative gets rolling, you need to maintain momentum.
– Execute the work of guiding your change – show up and get the activities done.
– Don’t let your work as a Change Agent get lost among the other priorities of your week. Keep plugging away and track your progress.
– Seek feedback on how the work of change adoption is going.
– Provide regular status updates to your leadership team and your stakeholders.
– Make sure your team gets aligned and stays aligned on what the change means and how it will unfold.
– Take the time to develop your messages before communicating.
– (See my earlier posts on how to develop good change-related communications)
– Explore how the change will impact different people in different ways.
– Target your training and communication efforts based on the various levels and types of change people will face.
– Seek out questions from those who are impacted.
– Find out how well individuals are adapting and stay focused on their needs because that’s your strike zone!
– Answer stakeholder questions in an honest and straight forward way.
3. Change Speeds. Avoid getting stuck in a rut when it comes to helping people adopt your change. Even a .250 hitter will eventually hit your best fastball if that’s all you throw!
– Mix it up a little. Read up on innovative ways to help people adapt and try something new when things get stale.
– Don’t forget to reward people for trying to adopt the change! Many work settings are so devoid of recognition that even a simple “thank you” will be met with great appreciation.
– Use multiple channels to reach your impacted audiences.
– Try different training and communication techniques. People respond to different adult learning methods and messaging approaches.
– Take into account that some folks are self-starters while others may need to be dragged forward!
– Don’t guess what people are thinking about the change – go ask!
– Fill in the gaps based on that feedback.
Bring in the Closer: One final thought: Avoid assuming you’ll win the game of change just because you have talent and you tried hard. Whether you realize it or not, you can check the score of your game at any time by gathering data. One sure sign that you have lost momentum for your change is when you hear people asking:
– “Whatever happened to that big change?”
– “It seemed to make a lot of noise initially then it fell off the radar…”
– “Is that still a big deal?”
Don’t let this happen to you! Fire a fastball over the plate with your first pitch and keep your momentum up from opening day until the playoffs. Mix up your techniques and stay focused on the key points that drive the rationale for your change.
Give people a place to go for help and never forget that the game is on your shoulders. Throw every pitch as if it matters – because the game is yours to win or lose.
Now settle down and get back out there Kid! …And throw strikes!
Questions for Chatter:
- What creative techniques have you seen for “mixing it up” as you help people adapt to change?
- Have you witnessed a Change Agent “throw strikes” by delivering a helpful message that was right on target for you?