We are creatures of habit in all we do … life is a constant stream of related actions which we have learned over time. How we work, play and relate is an evolving summary of what has preceded in the days and years before. The wisdom of the years are a result of the experiences we have lived through. Quite often these come in response to small shifts, often subtle enough to be missed, which we adapt and adjust to continue forward. However, there are perceived significant movements which we recognize as Change along with the abrupt negative and positive outcomes. This is when we collide with habit and the steady stream of daily activity. When the unfelt tremor becomes the earthquake. And now we must manage this change. Do we embrace it? Or repel it? How do we incorporate the new business stream? Or the discontinuation of a service or product?
Dr. Schuler suggests what the primary decisions people consider in his article “Overcoming Resistance to Change: Top Ten Reasons for Change Resistance“. This summary provides a quick study of the barriers before people as they confront change to daily lives, especially work which consumes at least a third of any given day.
- “The risk of change is seen as greater than the risk of standing still.” As you meet this change, know the rationale, the research, the numbers to measure the effects of standing still versus changing.
- “People feel connected to other people who are identified with the old way.” The continuity of our loyalty and relationships is important. Recognize and incorporate how our mentors and successes got us to this point, this change.
- “People have no role models for the new activity.” As in a past cereal ad, “Let Mikey try it first”, we need to lead-by-example to share how we can get it done. We usually learn by observing from the time we are born to learning to talk and walk to new job tasks we watch how others do it.
- “People fear they lack the competence to change.” Not only do we have to cheerlead and motivate people to see how the changes can be a benefit, we must also provide the roadway forward through education, orientation and training. We must deliver the steps that provide comfort in doing something new or in a new way.
- “People feel overloaded and overwhelmed.” We all believe the hard work we are doing has a successful output. However, the concept of changing how or what we are doing adds another degree of more work to accommodate or learn. It is in this period that we can re-emphasize the risk of not changing as well as praise and motivate the accomplishments to make the change.
- “People have a healthy skepticism and want to be sure new ideas are sound.” The levels of testing products and services that exist in our world are there to insure outcomes are reached. Whether it’s for safety, health or simply to check out it works, vetting an idea or process results in confirmation or improvements.
- “People fear hidden agendas among would-be reformers.” Open and transparent communications are essential to integrating changes to show the outcomes, benefits, the greater good to the organization as well as sharing the challenges and bad news which accompany change. The willingness to discuss, explore and resolve both the positive and negative impacts of the change are important to organizational and individual buy-in.
- “People feel the proposed change threatens their notions of themselves.” Our individual identity is so tied to what we do. What is the first question most often asked when first meeting someone … “What do you do?” When change brings differences to what we do for work and what its called, our identity is challenged. One must reinforce the rewards of a new work process and realize the values of a new way of operating. Understanding and identifying the benefits will help match or override the costs.
- “People anticipate a loss of status or quality of life”. As we well know, Change is constant. It will have both positive and negative impacts on all involved. The inevitability of change results in different processes and activities. Some of us will adjust and adapt, others will not and depart. This will require special efforts to manage and minimize the obstacles presented by those who stand to lose.
- “People genuinely believe that the proposed change is a bad idea.” There are plenty of examples of changes that were bad ideas. The importance of any change is the appropriate discussion which engages both the rational and emotional aspects of the change. This exploration provides opportunity to listen with respect to rational objections and beliefs the change may present. The engagement around the change is important both in vetting the change and getting buy-in.
Dr. Schuler’s full article provides more context to the top ten reasons for change resistance. Key words to successful change: engagement, education and encouragement.
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