One of the ladies I worked with was celebrating her 5th anniversary in her 8th marriage. After her 7th marriage ended, she went to a counselor who suggested she could get her change needs met by purchasing new throw pillows and keeping her husband. She is definitely a change agent! Are you a high change person? Do you get an adrenalin rush when you announce a change at work or see “new and improved” on a product and you have to put it in your shopping cart?
Many people thrive in a fast-paced, high change environment and constantly look for new and better ways of performing their job. They believe that if you’re not changing, you will get left behind. These individuals frequently haven’t finished implementing the last change before they begin working on the next new idea. They tend to be creative problem solvers and help organizations become what they “could be” rather than stay as they are.
Many people thrive in an environment with established processes, which create efficiencies and get proven results. They implement change when it makes sense to them and they see the benefit. These people are dependable, consistent, and get reliable results. If they don’t see the benefits of the change, they will be late adapters. They will sit back and wait for others to try the new way of doing things and see what results they get before they decide to implement the new process.
Both styles add value, however in very different ways. The challenge occurs when they need to work together and rely on each other for success. The change agents get frustrated and feel that the other styles are resistant to their ideas. The people who appear resistant to change are logical, rational people who have weighed the perceived advantages of the change with the cost of stepping out of their comfort zone and have decided that the change/risk is not worth it. They are not intentionally trying to give the change agents a hard time. Their perspective is that this change has disrupted their sense of security. They know they can be successful with the current process. They don’t believe they can be successful in the new process.
Some ways to engage people who resist change include:
Communicate how the new process is similar to the former process, get them back in their comfort zone where they are confident they can be successful.
Then discuss the differences in the process and the perceived benefit from those changes.
Listen to their concerns, incorporate their ideas into the change as possible.
Break the change into small, manageable steps. Let them experiment with small steps in the change to gain confidence and success with the new process.
Celebrate the small successes and build on those.
Learn from experience and make adjustments as necessary. Remember to use the term experience rather than mistake. It creates a safe environment for exploring and experimentation.
What additional tips have you used to respond to resistance to change?