[Part of the 4 part series on The Process of Change. See the others]:
- The Agile Change Agent
- Handling Resistance to Change
- 3 Levels of Change Implementation
- Complexities of Attitudinal Change
Handling Resistance to Change
People fight change because change makes, in a lot of ways, “current value” questionable. What we were doing yesterday… and continuing to do, might not be exactly right. In a lot of ways, change can be a sort of slap to the face. An invalidation of what has been ‘working’ before.
It appears, to some people, that in the process of change things are coming apart. Conflict of interest arises when people face meaningful alternatives and then they fight the change. They fear the possible disorganization that comes as a result of the change. They simply don’t want to leave the status quo because it is comfortable.
“Music has charms to soothe the savage beast.” – William Congreve
This is where the master facilitator must soothe the insecurities and fears that people have when it comes to change. Your ability to hold the line, quell peoples fears, and normalize the experience is crucial here.
We know that change is unavoidable and tends to affect the goals and direction of a company or teams in positive ways. We just have to be ready for the resistance that will come.
So, what should do we do when facing resistance?
I thought for a good while on this particular segment of this post. I came up with 4 bullet points, but in sum total, they all fell into basically one idea:
Find the Truth
Recognize why people resist change – don’t make assumptions. Find the truth. Is it the change or the method of change? Is it personal for some people? What types of baggage do people have? What nuances and idiosyncrasies are at play? How does the whole ‘system’ (people+environment) work?
I wrote about this before in my post People Not Technology as well as my post on KNOWING your Team. What we’re talking about here isn’t all the mushy-gushy stuff, but really understanding all the pieces of the system that are at play. Your investigative skills will play a huge role here. It’s hard work, but digging, asking the right questions, having the right conversations, and being available to criticism, feedback, and even arrows in your back, are all part of the job.