Selling Broccoli as Bacon

Just as good, only better, right?

When looking at tough change management tasks, many leaders try to develop communication messages that are difficult to “sell”.

And it doesn’t matter what the change is. If it’s good for the business, then it’s good for all the employees, right? I mean, if the company doesn’t succeed, then we all are at risk. We have to stay competitive, and that’s why we have this tasty broccoli for you instead of the unhealthy strip – or maybe slab – of bacon.

I’ve worked in 4 locations that were either closed or sold, and in each case the leaders tried to tell people that it could happen. Only looking back, they didn’t so much try and tell them, they tried to sell them on another idea with the possibility of a negative consequence. And they weren’t buying.

That’s why leaders who are trusted are so valuable. They don’t sell, they tell. They tell the truth. They tell people about the changes that need to be made, they tell them that it’s urgent, and then they give them the tools and help to make the changes. They don’t try and make the package appealing, in hopes that people will buy the message. They make it plain and simple.

Of course, not all change requires that level of directness. My friend Heather Stagl wrote a book on this topic called “99 Ways to Influence Change“. It’s not a book about change theory. It’s not a reference to Kotter or Bridges or 97 other change approaches. It’s about techniques to facilitate change. There’s good, practical ideas in this book, and some that are just a little bit fun. While she includes sections titled Beg, Bribe, and Nag, there are many more suggestions that make this a great little reference book. And she never, ever suggests that you pretend Broccoli is Bacon.

 

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