Leading Change: Understanding & Comfort are Not the Same Thing

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say, “People hate change.” I actually believe most people think change is okay. What they hate is ambiguity and uncertainty. They want to know “What’s in it for me?”

I do not believe that people ask this question to be selfish, so much as they want to reduce the unknowns that affect them. They are actually willing to give change the benefit of the doubt, as long as it means something positive for them.

  • A new and better job
  • More money
  • A saner boss
  • An easier commute
  • Additional time to spend with their family and friends
  • More excitement and fun at work.

For example, when things go on sale shoppers don’t complain: “Who changed the prices? I was just getting used to the old, higher ones. I hate change.” Instead, they see the lower prices as a personal invitation for them to buy.

That’s what’s “in it” for them.

They accept and welcome change, even inconvenience, when they can see how it benefits them. Yet, tell them you are going to change the prices but not when or whether they are going up or down and you’ll drive them crazy.

By now you are probably thinking, “If I can just help people see how a change benefits them, then this change management thing is not so tough.” Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. What if there isn’t something “in it” for them?

For most organizations in the midst of a change initiative, the connection between what’s in it for the individual and what’s in it for the organization is often murky at best, especially in the short term. And the path to clarifying this connection is anything but a straight line. Thus, effective change leadership is more about achieving clarity and selling the need for and the inevitability of change than it is about making change desirable or attractive.

The best HR leaders help people understand, accept, and then ultimately embrace change. The least effective HR people spend their time trying to get everybody comfortable with change.

Understanding and comfort are not the same thing.

To me, the least relevant metric to assess change readiness is whether people like it. The most effective metric is whether people understand it well enough to execute.

Learn More

If you found this information valuable, check out my book, THREE: The Human Resources Emerging Executive, which you can preview at www.exexgroup.com/publications/three-book.

Be sure also to check out the FREE eBook Black Holes and White Spaces: Reimagining the Future of Work and HR with the CHREATE Project, published through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and available for download on Amazon. It contains 26 essays from more than 70 chief HR officers and CHREATE Project volunteers and describes tools and frameworks for leaders inside and outside the HR profession.

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Spring 2019 Session of Leadership inSITE Open for Registration

Build Leadership Capabilities Crucial for Your Successful, High Potential Leaders

The next session of Leadership inSITE™ takes place April 2 to May 2, 2019 in Tempe AZ. 
Leadership inSITE Spring 2019

WHEN: April 30 to May 2, 2019
WHERE: Tempe Mission Palms, Tempe, AZ
ACT NOW: Registration is first-come first-served until sold out, so reserve your spot now. Previous sessions of Leadership inSITE have proven popular, and we expect this program to be well attended as well. To ensure that your leaders have space confirmed, we suggest reserving your spots ASAP.

This unique program builds leadership capability in four “insights” that are crucial for successful, high potential leaders: Strategy, Innovation, Transformation, and Execution (S-I-T-E).

» Learn More | » Register Online


Leadership inSITE is ideal for leaders who currently have senior, general management, or functional leadership roles but are not yet Vice Presidents. In most organizations, these leaders typically hold the title of Director or Senior Director, but may also be called Vice President in certain industries, may have 15 to 20 or more years of work experience, and/or may report to a Vice President or Senior Vice President of a major business unit or corporate level organization..

Participant Feedback

Leadership inSITE programs continue to receive extremely positive participant feedback:

  • “The program was highly valuable. Presenters were high caliber and content and tools were useful.”
  • “I thought the use of group reflection was a great and effective way to reinforce the topics.”
  • “I took away some very actionable learning that I can take back to my team and implement right away.”
  • “A great investment in individuals who are in need to start thinking more broadly. Great tools and insights were offered. Also, wonderful to hear perspectives from other industries.”
  • “Incredible amount of sharing done at perfect pace for assimilation. Organization is excellent to the minute details. Well Done!”
  • “I felt that the learnings around memory and presenting with stories/analogies to be a very beneficial takeaway.”
  • “The faculty reminded me of why I love what I do.”
  • “One of the most valuable management trainings I’ve been to in years. It was applicable and relevant to my stage of the journey.””

About the Program

Leadership inSITE is the product of a highly collaborative process involving input from a cross-company, multi-industry group of leadership development practitioners from numerous companies in partnership with Business inSITE Group, a human capital coaching and consulting firm founded by Ian Ziskin and Lacey Leone McLaughlin.

Leadership inSITE has been co-designed with multi-company input to ensure the entire experience is practical, real-world, user-friendly, and distinctly cost-effective.

Leadership inSITE™ features world-renowned external panelists such as Jay Conger, Soren Kaplan, Cheryl Perkins, and Al Vicere. The program offers practical real-time discussion of real-life business issues with participating company executives, and is designed as an ongoing learning process, not just an “event,” with pre- and post-program development and networking opportunities.

jay conger Soren Kaplan
Jay Conger Soren Kaplan
Cheryl Perkins Al Vicere
Cheryl Perkins Al Vicere

» Learn More | » Contact Program Manager | » Register Online

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The WoHRk Bootcamp in Chicago November 14

The WoHRk Bootcamp is coming to Chicago on November 14. You are invited to join The WoHRk Project co-founders, EXec EXcel Group’s Ian Ziskin and professor, author and HR expert John Boudreau, for this challenging, fast-paced look at the changing world of work and HR. The daylong program is designed to stimulate your thinking and ideas to ensure your readiness for and relevance to the changing nature of work over the next 10 years . . . and beyond.

November 14, 2018: Chicago, Illinois
Hosted by Allegis Partners,
8 am to 5 pm


  • Examine trends and forces of change that are completely reshaping business, work, and HR
  • Explore new emerging capabilities and roles required for future success
  • Utilize practical and simple tools that HR leaders and consultants can use to assess future-readiness, identify individual and organizational strengths and development needs, and prioritize key actions to close gaps
  • Participate in disrupting conventional wisdom and outdated assumptions about HR via the brand new WoHRK Project InventionLab
  • Complete an HR Transformation Action Map to get you started on pragmatic steps to drive change in business and HR organizations
  • Address real-world challenges through peer coaching, team assignments, and insights from John and Ian

Ian Ziskin

Who Should Attend

Anyone is welcome to attend, though we expect participants will primarily be mid-career HR leaders through CHROs, as well as consultants and other senior executives. Join us as an individual participant or bring a team of colleagues or clients.

About The WoHRk Project

The WoHRk Project is brand new and builds on more than five years of advising, coaching, researching, teaching, and writing on the future of work and HR by John and Ian. In addition, The WoHRk Project honors the great contributions of 100 volunteer HR leaders who have been part of prior phases of this work under the CHREATE Project banner during the past few years.

John Boudreau

Learn More & Register

Spaces are filling up fast and we don’t want you to miss out.

November 14, 2018: Chicago, Illinois
Hosted by Allegis Partners,
8 am to 5 pm

If you have questions, contact Kiley Merrill, Program Manager, WoHRk Project, at kiley.wohrk@gmail.com or by phone at 661.709.0405.

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