12 Ways to Reduce Resistance to Change - Part 2

It may go like winning the lottery, or like the grim reaper running amok!

That is the likely spectrum of emotion you will encounter on announcing your change plan to the team or the organisation. No matter how brilliantly researched, planned, and executed, you will meet resistance to change. Why? Simply put, our brains are hard-wired to protect us in a myriad of ways when we feel threatened. So what does that mean for your people?

In May’s post, I set out the first six of my suggested twelve ways to reduce or reframe resistance to change. The twelve suggestions operate, to a degree, on a layered basis; so if you did not read my May post, you might like to go back to that one and read it first.

The second six tried and tested ways

  1. Throughout any change process, you must respect values—individual, team, and organisational. Assuring a successful change process hinges on an active alignment of those three levels of values. That is your bedrock and you must not overlook it.
  2. As a change leader, it is your responsibility to set the stage for change. So, this is not something you spring on people; it is something you build up to, painting a clear picture of why the change is required and how it might look.
  3. Whenever discussing the change process, there are two things all concerned in the process will naturally seek answers to, issues of autonomy and security of job role. So, for those where these are safe, reassure them early and often. For those who will experience a difference, however large or small, tell them soon and do it face-to-face—do not leave it to some poor unfortunate junior manager. Your staff deserves your leadership, as after all, these are your initial ideas, at the very least—so own them!
  4. In my experience, change is always best achieved by keeping actions steps small and straightforward. That enables identifiable quick wins, which you can celebrate with staff along the way. That builds trust in the process and grows critical mass for your ultimate success.
  5. Throughout any change process, small or large, keep routes for dialogue open for possible revision of your plan. Human interaction generates ideas, thoughts, and opinions and any of these may give a significant insight and uplift to your projects.
  6. Always take a positive view on resistance and seek to reduce it rather than eliminate it. Do the latter, and you will drive it underground and then find it even harder to implement. In my experience, human beings possessed an innate talent for obfuscation, procrastination, and passivity when they chose to do that. I know that only too well as I have been that change objector, challenger, and guerrilla; and I know firsthand it makes for incredibly messy encounters and outcomes

What does this all mean?

I believe that change and resistance to change inevitably go hand-in-glove. It is the nature of our human condition and we each react differently, whether slightly or significantly, whether positively or negatively.

I hope the twelve ideas set out over the past two months give you some sense of how to reduce or reframe resistance to current or future change scenarios you might be leading or participating in as a player. It is my experience that it is never too late to review, revise, and refresh your plan; so be a bold leader and do so, if the need arises. If you are not the leader, encourage your leader to be a brave leader and support them in that bravery.

I would welcome your ideas on my twelve suggestions or any other ideas you have for reducing resistance that you have in the past or are currently encountering.