Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Executive Role in Managing Change Resistance

Think for a moment about moving from one place to another.  Maybe you did that as a kid.  Your parents had thought about it for months, then they sprung the news on you.  You were confused, angry, frustrated, sad and disoriented.  After the move, you were wary, concerned, cautious and hesitant.  That’s change management in a nutshell, and it provides an insight into change resistance.

      Change Resistance is a popular subject: 

     Resistance is brought up again and again as a source of change failure. Thankfully, it is receiving some academic attention, since resistance to change is not always a malicious attempt by malcontents to derail an initiative.  Resistance is more complex than people who say "I don't want to do this."  In fact, Executives play a major role in managing resistance.  
      Executive approaches to managing change resistance.   

                                         Hint: Command and Control is not helpful.
·         "Do this or you’ll be fired.”  I start with the least helpful of the approaches.
·     "Upper management insists that we do this.”
·      "Just get on board.”
·      “You’re just not a team player.”
·      “Why don’t you get it?”

     Ever wonder why people resist change?   

    Maybe you’re part of the problem.  Maybe you’re creating the resistance!
1.      You and your executive team have been thinking about this change for months, maybe years, and then … out of the blue … you announce the change and expect others to jump on board.
2.      “Just do it” may be helpful for exercise, but it doesn’t play well with people whose lives are going to be upset because of a change.
3.      Sometimes, naysayers actually have a point.  Blowing them off only creates enemies and hostile compliance.
4.      Sometimes executives think people at lower levels of an organization should just ‘do’ stuff.  People sense the condescending attitude of someone who truly does not care about the front line worker.
5.      Sometimes the change causes serious disruption in people’s lives!  If you're a single mother with a child who has asthma, and you need to be at weekly appointments, a change in location, schedule or supervisor can have an immense impact on your life and the life of your child.  Executives need to be aware of these kinds of impact resulting from a change.

     Maybe there’s a better way. 
1.      The simple act of listening provides a great deal of credibility with people.
2.      Sometimes, jujitsu is necessary.  Sometimes we need to use the power of the negative to make gains.  If you have naysayers, engage them in the change process.
3.      Above all, having a clear and compelling argument for the change is essential to persuade users.
4.      A compelling argument requires clear language and cogent statistics. Don't make it sound academic or use language that makes no sense to people.  Speak plainly. 

Reduce resistance by increasing motivation.
     The percentage of people who resist something just to resist is very small.  Cogent arguments that create a bulletproof rationale, along with a clear plan for implementation, can reduce resistance.  Who knows, you may gain the organizational momentum you need to win the masses to your change initiative! 

      Lead!  Show the way.  Demonstrate the change!

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