Early adapters only need to see and hear a plan of action that coincides with the cry of their heart. They are then willing to throw themselves into the work and help push the cause forward. Every leader loves and needs early adapters on their team. However, a good team is made of up a mixture of personalities. Not everybody is so quick to jump on board
Middle adapters need to see a clear path from what is to what will be. For this group of individuals, a clear plan of action is important. They need to understand the problem, as well as the solution. This group is only resistant to needless change. Therefore, it is important to spend time explaining the problem, as well as how the solution will improve results. You need to know what it is you want to do, why it needs to be done, and how you plan to get there. When you can show a clear plan of action, middle adapters will be on board.
Late adapters need to understand the connection from what was to what will be. This group relates on a much different level. To understand them with compassion, consider a railroad. No matter what you do, your engine is going to go where the tracks go. People who are late adapters have a very strong railway system in their heads. In order to help them adapt to change, you have to discover where they have been and connect that to what will be. In this way, you add a switch to their railway system and provide them with the tools and capability to move to the new track.
Let’s say you want to change the color of your sanctuary.
Early adapters will be on board the minute you mention it.
Middle adapters will need to understand how you plan to choose the new color, and make sure that you have a process in place.
With Late adapters, it might be best to lead with questions. Ask them about the last renovation. Help them remember why they did all that hard work. Take them into the sanctuary when it’s not full of people, and let them really look at the chipped, discolored paint. They have always wanted the sanctuary to look nice. Then realizing that there might be a need for a new paint job, send them on a foray to the paint store to discover what colors say about a building and report back what they found. Do certain colors help people stay awake and alert? Are some colors more warm and inviting than others? (Be careful about the sort of questions, making sure you make it clear that the ultimate decision is in someone else’s hands because their railroad tracks are pretty much cemented, and if they decide on a paint color, they will wrestle anyone to the ground for it.) When your ‘research team’ is done with their project, they will not only be in full support of a color change, they will most likely have procured the funding.
True, this is perhaps a bit of an easy thing. The fact remains that the deeper the emotional attachment is, the harder the change will be. Just try moving a teen across the country, or similar involuntary transitions, later in life. The key to helping people who are reluctant to change is to identify their emotional barriers, and address them. Find ways that the new situation will address their concerns and even meet their needs. Late adapters will be your strongest supporters if you will cultivate those relationships and take the time to respect their views.
Truthfully, middle and late adapters are a great gift. They cause us to review our plans from every angle so that by the time we have everyone on board, we are ready to go forward, avoiding flaws and obstacles we would have missed otherwise.