Home Dental Episode #573: The Stages of Change, with Jaime Taets

Episode #573: The Stages of Change, with Jaime Taets

by adminjay

If you own a business, you need a coach! Even coaches need their own coaches for support and guidance. Today, Kirk Behrendt brings in ACT Dental’s very own coach, Jaime Taets, CEO and founder of Keystone Group International. She shares key insights from her years in corporate culture that will help energize and unify your practice. With her model, the stages of change, you will finally understand why your team isn’t on board with your plans, and what you can do to change that. To learn more, listen to Episode 573 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

The Stages of Change: [link needed]

You Are Here by Jaime Taets: https://jaimetaets.com/product/you-are-here

Pre-order The Culture Climb by Jaime Taets (launches June 20, 2023): https://jaimetaets.com/the-culture-climb

Jaime’s podcast, SuperPower Success:

Culture Cohort – Creating a Culture of Contribution and Not Fit (event on May 17, 2023): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/culture-cohort-creating-a-culture-of-contribution-and-not-fit-tickets-567064203297?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni: https://www.tablegroup.com/product/dysfunctions

Main Takeaways:

Everyone needs a coach.

Understand the five stages of change.

When you know better, you can do better.

Don’t hire a coach that doesn’t have a coach.

Communicate seven times in seven different ways.


“You don’t hire a personal trainer to give you a bowl of ice cream and the remote. Right? Think about that. You would never hire a personal trainer to do that. Why would you hire a coach to come in and pacify you, or just come in every now and then and tell you you’re doing a good job? I don’t believe that’s the job of a coach.” (5:23—5:40)

“I think we’re advisors. We’re there to help you see what you can’t see, because you’re too close to it . . . You already know your business, so I’m not coming in and telling you, ‘This is what you need to do.’ I’m coming in and asking you questions so that you can take a step back and say, ‘Wow. I didn’t realize it because I was so close to it, but we do have that problem,’ or, ‘I can see that now.’ And that’s worth its price in gold.” (5:40—6:04)

“I have a coach. Any advisor, coach, anybody you’re going to have come into your business, if they do not have a coach, run in the opposite direction. Because we all need to level up and have somebody that’s helping us.” (6:05—6:18)

“As humans, when something is changing — and this can be the smallest change, it can be a big change. So, it really doesn’t matter, the magnitude — you go through these five stages. And when we talk about it with leaders and coaches, let’s say we’re a business owner of a dental practice. They’re going like, ‘Why won’t my people get on board with what we’re doing?’ We usually help them step back and say, ‘Because we haven’t done the work needed to help them see the change and what’s involved in the change.’” (7:55—8:28)

“The different stages of change, our job as leaders is to help people get through the stages as fast as possible, not expect them to just be on board because we sent an email, or we said something once. And that’s the part as leaders I think we get hung up on, is we get frustrated. And so, when we share the stages of change, it’s to help leaders understand, don’t be frustrated. Just realize they’re somewhere on the stage. They’re in one of those stages and we have to figure out how to move them.” (8:29—8:56)

“The first stage of change is awareness. So, if you think about a curve and there are five stages on that curve, the first stage is awareness. And what awareness means is — wait for it — I’m aware of the change. But that’s it. I’ve seen an email. Okay. That doesn’t mean I’m changing. It just means you’ve sent me an email. I’ve heard you mention it. Okay. But that’s all that is to me. I’m just aware that there is a change we’re talking about.” (9:58—10:26)

“After awareness, we move people to understanding. Understanding is interesting. I know a little bit more about the change. Not quite sure how this is going to work or how it’s going to impact me, but I understand it maybe a little bit below the surface, a little more than just, you’ve sent me an email.” (10:28—10:45)

“Whenever somebody says, ‘But we communicated it to them, and we wrote a process for them,’ I’m like, ‘That’s two out of seven. What else are we going to do?’ And they’re like, ‘What?’ It’s scientifically proven, [you need to tell people something] seven times in seven ways. And that might mean verbally. That might mean in a meeting where they’re connecting dots, because it’s all about dot-connecting. They aren’t on the journey. They haven’t been thinking about it for three months or three years like you have. They don’t see the same problem you see from their seat. And so, you have to paint the picture for them in pieces and put it together for them. Most leaders give up too early. They get frustrated, and then the employee is frustrated. And it’s because we don’t have this common language to point and say, ‘I’m only at awareness. You haven’t gotten me further than that. I need more,’ whatever that looks like. That’s what we want to create, is that common language.” (11:54—12:47)

“Awareness is discomfort. Like, ‘Uh-oh. What’s changing?’ Understanding is, ‘Okay. Open to hearing more, but I have no idea what this means for me.’ The third stage is acceptance. This is a really important one. We call this stage fragile hope. This is three stages in to the five, and they’re still not fully on board. What it really means is, they’re now open to being involved in the change, but they don’t fully understand the change yet. And what happens with most leaders is we get people to use the language, even trigger words that you’ll hear from people on how they know where they’re at on the change. You’ll think you got them there because they’re saying all the right things. But all it’s going to take is for someone to be like, ‘Oh, yeah. We tried this three years ago. You weren’t here, but Kirk did this before. Yeah, we tried. It doesn’t work, and he’ll probably go back.’ All it takes is someone to put any amount of “uh-oh” in there, and they slide right back down the change curve.” (12:57—14:03)

“Most organizations that we come into, even if they think they’re good at communication, only get people to acceptance. And then, they wonder why people are still wavering. Because at acceptance, I have a foot in the past, pre-change, and I have a foot in the future, knowing something is happening, and I haven’t yet decided which one I want to be in.” (14:04—14:22)

“So, going from acceptance to the fourth stage of change, which is commitment, that’s the biggest chasm, as leaders, that we have to cross. That is where the work is. So, I tell leadership teams, ‘When you feel like you have someone to acceptance, double down. Don’t take your foot off the gas at that point and think you’re done and move on to the next thing.’ That is the point where you actually have to increase your communication. You have to talk more about what’s going on. You have to create a different space and places for people to have the conversations and drive the change.” (14:27—15:01)

“Commitment means I am taking proactive steps in relation to the change. So, words that you would hear from somebody when your team is fully committed, you’re going to hear things like, ‘Hey, Kirk. That thing you were talking about, I know we’re doing that. But I was also thinking, what if it could also help us over here?’ You know you have them, because they’re not focused on the change and the pain of it. They’re actually proactively thinking about other things that could happen and that you could also leverage that change for.” (15:02—15:32)

“Advocacy is where I am going to be an evangelist for the change and I’m going to help other people get through the change. I’m going to advocate for what we’re doing, and why it’s the right thing for the company, how it’s going to help us. And so, you have to get through commitment and get somebody to that evangelist stage for them to be in advocacy.” (16:13—16:33)

“We get this question all the time, ‘That sounds like a lot of time.’ Here’s what I will tell you. You can spend it upfront on the change, or you can spend it on the backend when it’s not working and when people aren’t following the process. You’re going to spend the time regardless. So, why not spend it proactively? Focus on that so that you can move on to the next change. Because how many organizations are still reliving change they made a year ago, processes that aren’t being followed, things that aren’t being done in a consistent way? It’s because they didn’t actually manage the change the first time out, and so now we manage the fires that are created because of it afterward. So, I think you’re losing time no matter what.” (16:36—17:19)

“Most don’t know about models like this. This is from my big corporate days, but I’ve simplified it down. I’m reminded of the Maya Angelou quote, ‘When you know better, then do better.’ If I don’t know it, I can’t do it. But now that you know it, now we need to actually use it and be more aware of how we come across. Self-awareness is the first step. But how you do it is you focus on the people on your team who are actually good at this. So, when I come into a leadership team, I’ll know the people that have a little higher emotional intelligence. And that’s not a disrespect to — some people have higher natural emotional intelligence than others. Emotional intelligence typically, and empathy, is the key to being really good at change management and getting people through. Because you have to be able to sit in their seat, and look at what you’re saying, and go, ‘Ouf, that email could really come across wrong if we say it that way, from their seat.’ And so, sometimes as a leadership team, for you, it’s surrounding yourself with people that can see different perspectives and aren’t afraid to tell you, ‘I don’t know if that message is going to be received in the way you intend it to be received.” (18:00—19:10)

“When you feel like you are micromanaging, it’s because you’re not managing change. You’re not having the real dialogue, human to human, to say, ‘Does this make sense? What else should we be thinking about?’ It’s oftentimes asking different questions to get people through that change curve, is you’ve got to turn their brains on in a different way. Because here’s the thing. Your employees are not sitting around like, ‘I’m just going to stay at the awareness phase. Screw them.’ That’s not happening. They don’t realize they’re not at advocacy.” (19:54—20:28)

“A $300 million general contractor, I’ve been working with them for four or five years. In January, at their annual planning — they’ve had Lean. So, a lot of people heard about Lean in the manufacturing and construction space, Lean Six Sigma. They hired a full-time person who’s been there for two years driving a Lean agenda in their organization. But it’s been faltering, and stopping, and starting. We were planning it, and I finally turned to the executive team. I drew the stages of change, and I said, ‘Where are you at as it relates to Lean on the stages of change?’ This is the executive team leading the entire organization. We’re two years in. And all but one of them, the person who owns the Lean team, said, ‘I’m back at understanding.’ I’m like, ‘Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent that is really going nowhere because none of you are actually committed or advocates for Lean.’ And it was this moment of — they weren’t operating every day trying to undermine what was going on in the organization. But until they have the language to say, ‘I’m not there yet,’ that opened up a whole dialogue, and now actually has had other ripple effects in the organization where they’re like, ‘We’re not having these kinds of conversations, and this is the kind of stuff that’s holding us back.’” (20:32—21:55)

“The entire organization follows right where the leaders go. And if the leaders are all going in different directions, what direction does the organization go? It’s spattered. It doesn’t have clear focus. And that’s actually the biggest fracture we see in most organizations today, and why you’re having retention issues, and all these things, is because they look at the leaders and go, ‘Every single one of them is misaligned.’ And what we tell leadership teams is, ‘If you think you’re hiding your misalignment, your dysfunction, your distrust between yourselves, you’re not.’ Think about parents who think they’re hiding what’s going on. You’re not. The organization is seeing it, and they’re seeing that you’re not aligned.” (22:32—23:14)

“Two things happen when a leadership team is not aligned. People take advantage of it. It’s the whole mom, dad — I’m going to go to which one’s going to give me the answer about what I want to do this weekend or give me the answer I want. That’s what they do to the leadership team. So, when they see fractures, if they know they can get it from Kirk, they’re going to say, ‘I’m going to go ask Kirk and get what I want,’ even if somebody else isn’t aligned to that. So, they see right through it. Or it causes them anxiety. It causes them like, ‘I don’t know what to do because I don’t see my leaders being cohesive and being aligned.’ And so, if we don’t start there, none of the rest of it matters.” (23:15—23:54)

“Pick a change. And this could just be, ‘We’re going to make a small change to a process,’ or, ‘We’re going to start measuring something different.’ Don’t pick your biggest, like, ‘We’re implementing a whole new system.’ Don’t start there. You’ve got to build the muscle. But start with a change that’s happening.” (24:22—24:38)

“Here’s what advocacy is. Advocacy is when someone else pushes back, I step forward versus stepping back. And what a lot of leadership teams don’t realize is they go through the stages of change, and they don’t get as far as they think they do. And the moment somebody on their team down in the organization has a problem with it, what do they do? ‘Oh, yeah. Yeah, you’re right. Yeah, that’s not the best thing to do. You’re right.’ We need all leaders to be full-on committed and advocates of this. And to do that, we have to make sure they have the talking points, and they have what they need.” (25:15—25:52)

“Start using this language, whether it’s in a one-on-one and you’re having a performance conversation. Where are they at? ‘Do you understand? Do you fully accept where we’re at? How can you be committed and show your commitment to this?’ Start using the language because I think it’s going to change the dialogue that you have.” (25:53—26:10)

“Unless there’s a high degree of trust, we’re having good, healthy debate and discussion, we’re not fully committed. We’re nod-our-heads committed. And that’s what I think happens in a lot of organizations. Especially as a business owner, and this is something that owners need to realize, is people are going to nod their heads when you say something just because they feel like they’re supposed to do that. That does not mean they’re committed. So, create the opening to say, ‘I see you’re nodding your head. Walk me through where you’re really at. Do you fully understand why we’re doing this?’ And give them the opportunity to say no. At least then, you know, and you can do more work, versus we go, ‘Okay. Yup, they nodded their heads. Everyone was looking at me in the room like we’re all good,’ and then I move on to the next thing. That’s where the pain comes from, because people are just nodding their heads because they know they’re supposed to, because you’re the business owner.” (26:54—27:45)

“When we know better, we do better. So, now, you know. Everybody who is listening, you know that this is a real thing. It’s scientifically proven. It’s how humans’ brains are wired. You can use this at home. You can use this in your community groups. You can use it, when you get good at it, at the office. It works in life to say, ‘How are we going to get people on board with what we’re trying to do where they feel comfortable, and we can be successful as a team?’ So, just practice it. Try a conversation. Try it out with somebody that you trust. Start using it in your leadership team. And maybe you just start there.” (28:19—28:53)


0:00 Introduction.

1:39 Jaime’s background.

4:47 We all need a coach.

6:18 The stages of change, explained.

8:56 Stage 1) Awareness.

10:27 Stage 2) Understanding.

11:39 The 7/7 rule.

12:48 Stage 3) Acceptance.

14:27 Stage 4) Commitment.

15:33 Stage 5) Advocacy.

16:34 Choose how you spend your time.

17:20 Know better, do better.

19:10 What’s holding your team back?

21:57 As goes the leadership, so goes the team.

24:01 Where to start.

26:12 Give your team the opportunity to say no.

28:10 Last thoughts on the stages of change.

29:26 Get in rhythm.

31:24 More about Jaime’s podcast, books, and future events.

Jaime Taets Bio:

CEO, public speaker, author, podcast host, and thought leader, Jaime Taets, is uniquely qualified to address this internal culture crisis. With over 20 years in corporate culture, 13 of which were spent leading large-scale global transformations at Cargill, one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, Jaime has honed the craft of bringing leaders and their people together for a unified goal. It is with that leadership mindset that she formed Keystone Group International in 2013.

As Chief Vision Officer and Founder of Keystone Group International, Jaime and her team focus on leadership development, organizational strategy, growth, and change. What drives their work with clients is her belief that strong leadership and a change-resilient culture are the foundation for sustainable growth. Harnessing her experience leading thousands of executives and hundreds of companies on their large growth plans, she inspires real and sometimes challenging discussions about the crossroads between high-performance and healthy change.

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