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How to make lasting change actually happen

How to make lasting change actually happen

It’s one thing to know you want change to take place, it’s another to see that change become reality. Awareness is only the start, you need to be able to take action - congruent, consistent and real action. And if you are a leader, you’ll only see the change you want if you can take your people with you.

Many of us want to see more change happen - in ourselves and our organisations and especially at the start of a new year when the determination is often stronger. If you are ambitious to see the change you want in 2022, these tips are for you.

We’ve broken this into two sections. Things you need to have in place to see change as an individual, and those that apply to the wider organisation.

Change for the individual:

Our book ‘Real Leaders for the Real World’ makes the point that we may have acquired knowledge but, unless we can also change our behaviours, in reality we’ve learned nothing. So, we gave a framework which can be used to create the desired change.

Discipline - but start where you want to

You need a plan, a programme, a way to create a new discipline which will help you achieve your goal. But discipline is the development of a new habit, one you choose to develop, not one that you are told to. And here’s the key - you need to start with something you want to achieve, and what fits best with your style of learning. You might want to focus on a pressing problem or issue, or to develop traits or skills you’ve recognised you don’t have.

Give yourself freedom

It might sound strange to talk about freedom after we’ve just advised you to get disciplined and stick with something. But freedom is the reward you get from being disciplined. The decision to do something and show commitment to it brings the change from doing what you’ve always done and getting the same results. We are talking about giving yourself (and others) the freedom to develop those ideas that will find new, better and more efficient ways of doing things. Let go a little, and also be open to others who may also have the ideas that bring change.

Model those who inspire you

You may see others who inspire you as a role model. They might be leaders or just those who have the energy to get change done. We are not suggesting you copy them, you need to be yourself but you may find their behaviours are ones you admire. What is it that they do? Is perhaps their style in meetings, the way they ask questions and get others on board? How could you do something similar, but in your own style? It’s about identifying those things that could work for you once you’ve tweaked them. The more comfortable you feel, the more likely you’ll be to use these approaches to effect your own change.

Become more emotionally regulated

Emotional regulation is a person’s ability to keep their emotions proportionate to an event or situation. It doesn’t mean not having any emotion, but it does mean keeping emotions under control which brings huge benefits in terms of effecting change. Emotionally regulated people can listen carefully, appreciate multiple points of view and move ideas forward. What’s more, they can often make better decisions about how they spend their time and provide clarity of direction to those around them. We’ve covered emotional regulation in this blog which contains tips on how to become more emotionally regulated

Change for the organisation:

Bring a more human approach to your organisation 

We believe in the power of bringing humanness back into the world of work. When organisations support their employees by placing greater importance on things like wellbeing and resilience, empathy and respect of personal boundaries it follows that employees will be more loyal, productive and motivated. Humanness creates the engagement required to embrace and achieve change. And no leader, no matter how self-assured, can effect change without the support of their people.

Lasting change needs sustainable behaviours

We also believe that for change to last for the long term, it needs to be sustainable. For this to work, organisations need to embed sustainable behaviours within their culture. For example, short term thinking is only likely to see short term results, not lasting change. Paying lip service to wellbeing but expecting employees to embrace a long hours culture isn’t sustainable, or human for that matter. Failing to create a culture that supports diversity and inclusion isn’t sustainable when it’s increasingly recognised that diverse teams are more creative and productive - and therefore more likely to bring the innovation that creates change. Our recent blog covers more on the importance of sustainable behaviours - and the roles that leaders can play in embedding them.

Change requires great leaders

To create change you need a positive response from your people. Great leaders inspire, they share their passion and create purpose. And now, more than ever, employees are questioning what they want from their organisations as they emerge from the disruption caused by the pandemic. Strong leadership will help them re-focus and re-engage which will help support the inevitable change, post pandemic. They’ll also want a sense of optimism about the future and how their contribution will be important. People are more likely to engage with change when they feel a sense of ownership.

If you want to discover the true leader you really can be, our Leadership Development Programmes can help.

In conclusion

For change to take place, the changes you want to make have to feel right. We all know how easy it is to start with good intentions but fall back into what you’ve always done. So, take small steps rather than entering a marathon, you’ll be far more encouraged!

Lasting change in organisations all comes back to your approach to people. They want to feel valued, respected and know where they can make a difference - and that difference is worth making. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, real change isn’t a quick win. But make those changes sustainable from the outset and it’s a different story.

How Can We help?

How else can we help?

If you’d like our support in making these ideas work for you and your business, please get in touch.

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