The paradox of resisting change and how to deal with it

In order to understand the change management process, managers need to appreciate that each of their people, regardless of how much tolerance for change they may have, will exhibit some resistance to it. Why is that? It's because people change only when they're dissatisfied with their present situation. However, for the most part, people usually think that their present is at least good or good enough. For example: "If I'm performing well, I'm comfortable and I'm being rewarded for the work I'm doing, what's in it for me? Why should I change?"

This presents an interesting dilemma for managers at innovative companies, especially when they're performing well. For the most part, their people don't just think that things are good – they think things are great! But to live up to their ideals and remain a market leader, innovative companies must remain in constant motion and drive change well before they experience any dissatisfaction with the present.

In a twist of irony, businesses that leave the innovation to others, who perhaps are happy to remain in the middle of the pack, may not face nearly as much resistance to the changes they introduce. That's because they tend to change only when it's forced upon them, when it's abundantly clear to everyone inside and outside the business that they must change to in order to survive. With a "me too" business strategy like this, people can often be begging for change!

So the inconvenient truth is that the most innovative and successful businesses must also be the most adept at managing resistance to change. Which of course leads to the natural follow-up question: How can organizations manage this natural human resistance to change?

The tact, too often employed in businesses, is to confront the resistance when it presents itself. However there's a better way. And that's to act before the resistance ever manifests itself by getting your people personally involved with the change from its infancy. When you give people ownership of the process, you give them the opportunity to buy in from the ground level. And so instead of seeing themselves as a powerless pawn in a process that maybe perceived as being forced upon them, they see themselves as an important contributor.

With ownership comes opportunities for self-discovery, through which people come to recognize and appreciate the three attributes required to embrace change: what is the change, why is the change being made and how is the change going to affect me – both professionally and personally?

When successfully implemented, this approach avoids wasted energy and resources. Instead, you'll find you have an organization of change agents, ready and willing to be an integral part of the process.

Posted: 5/10/2011 5:00:19 PM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
Filed under: change, innovation, management, managers, resistance
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