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RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

Objectives 1. To examine fundamental reasons why people and organizations resist change. 2. To gain an appreciation that the adoption of innovation is a complex process involving a variety of people and factors. Outline The nature of change Resistance to Change Factors affecting the adoption of change.

Characteristics of Innovations that Foster Adoption Characteristics of Organizations that Foster Adoption

Worksheet on Resistance to Change

THE NATURE OF CHANGE


Adoption of Change The adoption of new ideas and techniques does not occur naturally but results from hard work, trial and error. It is important to recognize this fact and to make an effort to develop information that is concise, readable and to the point and to make sure the information reaches people who can use it. A broad spectrum of skills is needed to lead to effective management of innovation and change. There is no magic formula for success--no such formulas exist. Multiple channels of communication should be used to promote the adoption of an innovation. Never expect one report, one presentation, one telephone call or one conference to accomplish everything. Successful programs need to be carefully conceived and carried out. Human contacts are critical ingredients, and need to be used along with good written and visual materials. These materials are useless without an understanding of the needs, limitations and problems of the user. Change agents can bring innovation for the user by examining their preconceived notions about the way things should be done. Personnel have to be receptive to change themselves, they have to be able to evaluate new ideas objectively and see their users --not as they have been --but as they might be.

Resistance to Change
The adoption of innovations involves altering human behavior, and the acceptance of change. There is a natural resistance to change for several reasons. People resist change:

When the reason for the change is unclear. Ambiguity--whether it is about costs, equipment, jobs--can trigger negative reactions among users. When the proposed users have not been consulted about the change, and it is offered to them as an accomplished fact. People like to know what's going on, especially if their jobs may be affected. Informed workers tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction than uninformed workers. When the change threatens to modify established patterns of working relationships between people. When communication about the change--timetables, personnel, monies, etc.-has not been sufficient. When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved. When the change threatens jobs, power or status in an organization.

(An unwilling user can always make an idea fail, no matter how good it is.) Decision makers will be more responsive to change:

If the information presented coincides with their current values, beliefs, and attitudes: If they perceive that the change will benefit them more than it will cost them: If the innovation requires marginal rather than major changes in their views or lives: If they have a demonstrated need for the innovation: and If the innovation is introduced gradually so that people can adjust to the resulting change.

FACTORS WHICH AFFECT THE ADOPTION OF INNOVATION


CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INNOVATION Relative Advantage:

Generally, innovations must be seen as producing a SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT over current procedures and techniques in order to be adopted. The benefits must be perceived as so great as to be well worth the inevitable problems and costs associated with any change. Simplicity: The innovation, or at least the way it is presented, should be EASY TO UNDERSTAND. Even when users agree that the proposed change would be "good," they may not be enthusiastic if they think it's too complicated to understand or implement. Easy to Try: The new method or item must be easy to introduce, as well as easy to abandon if it doesn't seem to be working out. If an agency must make drastic changes in operating procedures in order to try something out, it will resist change, whatever its perceived merits. It helps if a technology can be tried in stages before the final decision to adopt is made. Easy to Measure: Once the new procedure or item is in place, it must be easy to measure the benefits, whether in money, time, efficiency or some other evaluation measure meaningful to the adopter. Inexpensive: The up-front cost of a new technology is often an obstacle, especially in rural areas and small agencies. If there is a large immediate increase in costs, it will be difficult to get the technology adopted, even if long-term savings are guaranteed. Characteristics of the Organization Risk Taking Climate: Are the managers of the organization willing to take risks? Both the size and age of an organization can affect this willingness. Younger firms are usually more willing to take risks and, for risk taking, small is better. The complicated structure of larger firms works against risk taking. The exception to this are large organizations whose success has been based on innovation.

Attitude towards Failure: New ideas, procedures and technology involve risk and it is not be possible to always succeed. Good decisions can have bad outcomes. How an organization reacts to a failed attempt to implement a change is critical. If people are punished, belittled, or put down for trying something new that doesn't work, the will be seldom willing to do it again. If, on the other hand, efforts are made to learn from the failure and to make it work a more open process of change will occur. Compatible Procedures/Technology: The more a new idea is compatible with past procedures, techniques and values of an organization, the more likely the organization is to adopt it. Extent of Regulation: The extent to which outside organizations, particularly government, can control the behavior of an organization affects innovation. Such outside regulation can have either a positive or negative effect, depending on the regulation and/or its enforcement. Labor Reaction: The likely reaction of employee groups will also affect whether or not a new idea is tried. Any change likely to cause a loss of rights or job security will need to have significant benefits for an organization to be willing to risk trying it out.

CHANGE WORKSHEET
A way to understand resistance to change is to use the following worksheet. This should be filled out separately by people in an organization, then discussed. What are the consensus reasons why people in your organization resist change??? The following factors affect how an individual or an organization reacts to change. Pick the five you think are most important. When you have chosen the top five, then rank these on a scale of 1 (most important) to 5. Think of examples to back up your opinions. Personal Factors: ______ Age ______ Sex ______ Education

______ Marital status ______ Experience ______ Time in the same job ______ Occupation ______ Other (Explain) ______________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Job Related Factors: ______ Number of Subordinates ______ Breadth of Activity ______ Degree of Autonomy ______ Amount of Job Security ______ Availability of Slack Time ______ Prestige of Position ______ Variety of Work ______ Other (Explain) ______________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Organizational Factors: ______ Size ______ Structure (Degree of Centralization) ______ Autonomy from Outside Political Pressure ______ Funding/Budget ______ Recognition ______ Reward System ______ Age of the Organization ______ Prestige ______ Other (Explain) ______________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ 1. ____________________________________ (Most Important) 2. ___________________________________ 3. ___________________________________ 4. ___________________________________ 5. ___________________________________

Resistance to Change
Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to Change Definition | Articles | See also

Definition
Resistance to change is the action taken by individuals and groups when they perceive that a change that is occurring as a threat to them. Key words here are 'perceive' and 'threat'. The threat need not be real or large for resistance to occur. In its usual description it refers to change within organizations, although it also is found elsewhere in other forms. Resistance is the equivalent of objections in sales and disagreement in general discussions. Resistance may take many forms, including active or passive, overt or covert, individual or organized, aggressive or timid.

Articles
Rationale for Resistance: What people tell themselves. The Nature of Opposition: knowing your 'enemies' in change. The Resistance Zoo: the animals and their styles of resistance. Signs of Resistance: spotting subtle signals of dissent. Dealing With Resistance: a range of methods may be used. How to Cause Resistance: there are many ways! Responding to Unexpected Resistance: When faced with pushback, what do you do?

See also
Objection-handling, Theories about resistance, Defensive body language, Fallacies, Coping Mechanisms, Resisting persuasion

Rationale for Resistance


Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to change > Rationale for Resistance I want to stay | I do not want to change | I am not going to change | See also

The rationale for resistance is often quite straightforward as people justify their actions to themselves. If you want to overcome resistance to change, you must be able to answer the following points.

I want to stay where I am because


Even if you offer me a bowl of cherries, I may not be very concerned to take what you proffer if I am happy where I am now. People who have been in the same place for a long time are usually in this state. They do not need to change and will view any suggestion of change with distaste. my needs are already met here Needs are basic drivers of action. If needs are not perceived as being particularly threatened and the current situation is relatively comfortable (particularly in comparison with the proposed change) then I will be happier to stay where I am.

If people already have their needs met, then you will need to shake the carpet and provide some sort of threat to those needs so they are no longer sufficiently met for the person to want to stay where they are. I have invested heavily here When I have invested a lot of time and energy in building up my position, both socially and organizationally, then any change may mean bad news. Social investment creates a person's sense ofidentity. Organizational investment gives them control. Sliding down the ladder that I have so painstakingly climbed over the year is a long way from my shopping list. Where people have invested heavily, you will either have to show them how to get to a similar position in the new organization or otherwise reduce the value of their investment (for example by moving the people over whom they have social influence). ...I am in the middle of something important When I have committed to achieving a goal, either personal or emotional, then a part of my integrity and hence identity may be bound up in achieving the goal. When I have partly completed something, I am also affected by the need for completion, such that I will feel uncomfortable with stopping now. When people are busy, find ways for them to complete the work in the shorter term, perhaps by nudging their goals so they have less to do to complete. If possible, turn their work towards something that will be useful for the new organization.

I do not want to change because


Even if I am not that happy where I am, I still may not be particularly interested in moving forward with the change. I do not understand what is being proposed It is a common problem for those who are promoting change to assume that it is easy to understand. People who do not 'get' the rationale for change will be less likely to go along with it and may hence hang back whilst they try to figure out what it really means. the destination looks worse than where I am now Although I want to move, the final resting place of the change looks significantly worse for me than the current position. I feel it is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. If you want people to voluntarily move, then it must be to somewhere better than they are now. You can create this in two ways: first by making the present position worse (though be careful with this!) and secondly by building a rosy vision to which people can then attach their dreams. there is nothing to attract me forwards If the change is nothing to do with me, if the benefits are all for other people or the general organization, if I just do not buy the 'vision' as sold, then I will feel no pull and I will not buy into the change. You may offer forth a brilliant vision, but do the people buy it? Make sure your communications are clear and couched in terms that people can understand and buy into. Make your visions inclusive, such that people really can and will buy the change. I do not know which way to move If I buy the vision, I may still may not know which way to jump. Some change projects sound wonderful, but people are left wondering what to do (even the managers). Grand plans need to be turned into tactical detail in which people can see and easily take the step forward. the journey there looks painful

The final destination may be great, but the journey from here to there looks very uncomfortable. The anticipated pain of the transition is more immediate than the distant and hazy future, and I respond more to this than to any inspiring vision. Make sure the transitional period between now and the final change does not appear so uncomfortable that people refuse to join you. In practice, it may not be that bad -- what counts, though, is the perception of the people, so design the transition well and then communicate it well. ...the destination or journey is somehow bad or wrong If the transition or the final destination somehow transgresses my values, then I will judge it to be bad or wrong and will be very loathe to join the party. Be careful with the change in working around established organizational and general social values. If you must break an unwritten rule (such as getting rid of people) then do so with appropriate consideration and care. I do not trust those who are asking me to change If my experience of you is that you have been untrustworthy in the past, then I am not likely to buy your vision of the future. If you are going on what I perceive as a perilous journey, then I will nottrust you and will not join you. The integrity of leaders is a very important attribute. If you want people to follow you, then you must give them good reason to trust you.

I am not going to change because


Even if people do not want to change, they may still have to do so, albeit truculently. Some people, how ever, have the wherewithal to refuse. I am able to ignore the change One of the questions I will ask is 'What happens if I do not go along with the change?' If the negative implications for my non-compliance are negligible, then I can happily not join in. This sort of situation occurs when the person in question is so valued by the organization that the idea of them leaving is unthinkable. This is often where difficult choices around change take place. What do you do with the laggards? If this problem is not addressed, then the people around them may take their lead and before long you have a silent revolution on your hands. I have the power to obstruct the change Another reason why a person can happily ignore the change is because they can stop it. People in senior positions often treat change as being a good thing -- as long as it is for someone else. When faced with change themselves, they may do whatever it takes to scupper the change, for example by refusing to give needed access or other support. This is a good test of the senior sponsor of change -- which may need to be the most senior officer in the organization. Those who actively oppose the change must be dealt with -preferably kindly and in in an understanding way, but ultimately in a firm and final way.

Needs
Explanations > Needs Needs models | Individual needs | So what?

What are needs? Needs are a kind of natural mental programming that make us want things. They essentially motivate us into action as a stimulated need leads to the inner tension that drives us into action.

Needs models
There are a number of theories and models of motivation that have been proposed, including: Actualizer Needs: A whole set for actualizers. Argyris' Governing Values: Needs for career success. Berne's Six Hungers: Drivers from Transactional Analysis. Career Anchors: What drives you to particular careers. CIA Needs Model: A useful changing-minds model. o Internal CIA Conflicts: How CIA needs conflict with themselves and one another. Control Conflict: The issue of managing risk. Identity Conflict: Who am I? Doyal and Gough's Needs: Health and autonomous. Eight Need Domains: Where other needs may be found. ERG Theory: Alderfer reduced Maslow's hierarchy to three key needs in 1972. Evolutionary Needs: Fundamental forces. Glasser's Five Needs are similar to Maslow's, but include fun! Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory was proposed in the 1960s. Horney's Neurotic Needs: What very anxious people seek. Kano's Needs were defined in 1984 with regard to customers, but are very relevant to all people. Maslow's Hierarchy is one of the best known descriptions of layered needs. Max-Neef Needs: Another recent list. McClelland's Acquired Needs Theory is also a three-need model. Mumford's Needs are four basic needs of workers. Murray's Needs are a longer list of needs identified by Henry A. Murray in 1938. Packard's Eight Hidden Needs: That advertisers target. Robbins' Six Needs: Three pairs of needs. Self-Determination Theory: Autonomy, relatedness, competence. Spitzer's Eight Desires: A recent collation. The Needs of Children: And the responsibility of parents. Yalom's Ultimate Concerns: Deep troubles we need to avoid.

Another useful view of needs is to understand the priorities of and differences between needs, wants and likes, and hence find where to focus your efforts and identify potential trade-offs.

Individual needs
If you want to get to descriptions of individual needs, here is a full list of needs that have more detailed descriptions available: Arousal Beauty Belonging Certainty Challenge Completion Conformity Consistency Control

Curiosity Esteem Explain Fairness Freedom Health Identity Novelty Prediction Rationality Repetition Safety Self-actualization Status Understanding Winning

So what?
You can leverage needs in two ways, stimulating or satisfying them. Stimulate needs The simplest way of stimulating needs is to make them visible. Show people what they have not got. Show them the future, and how their needs might be met. If you have the power, you can even take things away from them (or just threaten to do so). Satisfy needs When people have needs (perhaps those which you have stimulated), you can promise to satisfy them. It puts you in a position of being able to negotiation with them. The more desperate the needs, the more you can require in exchange.

The Nature of Opposition


Disciplines > Change Management > Stakeholders in change > The Nature of Opposition Drivers | Perceptions | Potential | Triggers | See also

When considering stakeholders who are opposing the change, do a deep analysis of their personality to give you better ability to manage their opposition and convert them to the cause of the change. This analysis should help you to decide whether and how you might convert the person to the change cause or, if they are implacable opponents, how you might control or contain their opposition.

Drivers
Beliefs Beliefs are basic drivers of thought and behavior. If you can understand their beliefs, you can begin to change them. What are their beliefs about people? Their rights? Their capabilities? What beliefs do they have about themselves? How strongly do they hold these beliefs? What are the beliefs that they have that led them to oppose the change?

What beliefs do they have that could be used to help convert them?

Values Values are guides and shapers of behavior that tell what is right and wrong, good and bad, important and unimportant. Understanding a person's values tells you what they will not do as much as what they will do. Goals Goals are the deliberate objectives that we set ourselves to satisfy values and needs. By identifying these and how they are affected by change, you can What are their career goals? What are their social goals? What other goals do they have? How are any of these affected by the change? Are any of their values being transgressed by change actions? What are their stress values? Are these being triggered? What values can you appeal to, to persuade them to change?

Perceptions
The perceptions that people have of the change is based on their internal systems and theinferences they make. Perception is reality for the person, even it if is not really true. It therefore makes sense to understand how they perceive the change. What are their perceptions of the change? What do they think will happen? What are their perceptions of other stakeholders in the change? Do they think others will help them? Do they think others will gain unfair advantage? What are their perceptions of those implementing the change? Do they think the change agents will be fair? Do they think they are competent?

Potential
A critical question about opponents of change is what they can and are likely do to oppose the change. What power do they have? What is the source of that power? (position, expertise, social, etc.) How might they use that power? (blocking, persuading others, etc.) What would the impact of that action be? (local, widespread, etc.) How might their power change?

Triggers
And when you understand the power that a person who is opposing or may oppose the change, the final step is to understand their triggers, those events that would tip them into action. What would lead them to use that power? (events, actions, etc.) What would defuse them beforehand? (involvement, listening, etc.) What would bring them down after they had started resisting? (listening, threats, etc.) Who do they listen to? (friends, social leaders, senior people, etc.)

What could other people do to contain or convert them? (words, action, etc.)

See also

The Resistance Zoo


Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to change > The Resistance Zoo My zoo | Your zoo | See also

This is a bit of fun and a lot of serious. It is surprising how many animals you can spot in change. Using animals is an entertaining and useful metaphor that you can use in many situations to break the ice and tell home truths.

My zoo
Here are some of the animals in my zoo. I've met all of these along the way in the change work I've done. Ostriches The ostrich famously puts its head in the sand when faced with danger. Like a small child, they work on the principle that if they cannot see the predator then the predator cannot see them. This does not seem to be a very good survival strategy. Fortunately, the ostrich also has long legs and can run away very fast. Moles Moles are dark and difficult to see. They burrow underground and are hard to find. Then they pop up when you think everything has been completed and the change is complete. They make a horrible mess of things and are very destructive. Tigers Tigers fight tooth and claw all the way. They are powerful -- or at least that is what they want you to believe. Hurt them only a little and they will seek to hurt you a whole lot more. Their message is this: mess with me at your peril. Go make your change elsewhere little person. Dogs Dogs know that, although they are not bad fighters by themselves, they are far more powerful in a pack. They seek one another out and attack en masse. They are not fearless but know that together they create even more fear. They will fight dirty and nip at you until you are down and then rip you apart. Owls Owls are wise and knowledgeable people. They sit up on their branches in their tree, pontificating and pointing down at the trivial world below. The know better than you and are not slow to point this out, as well as pointing out all the little faults in your change project (which is, of course, somewhat below them). Snails Well, you knoow, those old snails, they just go soo slooww. They creep along at, well, a snail's pace and hope that you will leave them to their own devices. Ho hum. See you then.

Your zoo
You can use the zoo in a workshop or in conversations. Give a few examples and ask people what other animals they can find. Make a collection. Have fun spotting new ones out there in the world around you.

Signs of Resistance
Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to change > Signs of Resistance Early signs of resistance | Collectivism of action | Visibility of resistance | Activity of resistance | See also

When resistance to change occurs, then it is very helpful to be able to spot it coming and hence respond appropriately to it (rather than be surprised when the change mysteriously fails).

Early signs of resistance


If you can catch resistance early, then you can respond to it before it takes hold, effectively nipping it in the bud. Gossip When the change is announced, the tom-toms will start beating loudly and grapevine will bear fruit of much and varied opinion. Keep your ear to the ground on what is being said around the coffee points. Listen particularly for declaration of intent and attempts to organize resistance. Grumbling and complaint are natural ways of airing discomfort, so you should not try to squash it (you would fail, anyway). The biggest danger of it is when it is allowed to ferment in an information vacuum. Respond to gossip by opening it up, showing you are listening to concerns and taking them seriously, and providing lots of valid information that will fill the vacuum. Testing Just as a high school class will test a teacher's ability to maintain discipline, so also will some brave soul test out what happens when they resist change. They may, for example, not turn up to a meeting or openly challenge a decision. How you deal with such early resistance will have a significant effect on what happens next. For example you can jump on the person and squash both them and their words, or you can take an adult position, describing what they have done and assertively questioning their motives.

Collectivism of resistance
Resistance can happen both on an individual case-by-case basis or people may band together. Individual action Individually, people may resist, although this is generally limited to the extent of their personal power. For those with lower power, this may include passive refusals and covert action. For those with more power, it can include open challenge and criticism. Handle individual action individually, starting with those with greater power. As necessary, you may need to make an example, and disciplining a senior executive can send a strong signal to other resistors. Collective action When people find a common voice in organized resistance, then their words and actions can create a significant threat to the change, even though they are individually less powerful. Trade Unions are a classic example of this. Organized resistance is usually a sign of a deep divide. People will not go to the bother of organizing unless they have serious issues with the change.

Manage collectives by negotiating with their leaders (which can be much easier than dealing with a myriad of smaller fires). You may well need to make concessions, but you at least should be able to rescue some key elements of the change. You can also 'divide and conquer' by striking deals with individual key players, although this must be done very carefully as it can cause a serious backlash.

Visibility of resistance
Sometimes resistance is out in the open, but more often it starts out in a more underhand, covert way. Covert resistance Covert resistance is deliberate resistance to change, but done in a manner that allows the perpetrators to appear as if they are not resisting. This may occur, for example, through sabotage of various kinds. Handle covert resistance by showing that you know what is happening and setting in place investigations designed to identify the people responsible. Overt resistance Overt resistance does not try to hide, and is a result either of someone comfortable with their power, someone for whom covert acts are against their values, or someone who is desperate. This may take forms such as open argument, refusal or attack. Deal with overt resistance by first seeking to respond openly and authentically. If the resistance is blind, then you will have no alternative but to defend, for example by isolating and disciplining attackers.

Activity of resistance
Overt resistance does not need to take positive action -- sometimes it can be passive. Passive resistance Passive resistance occurs where people do not take specific actions. At meetings, they will sit quietly and may appear to agree with the change. Their main tool is to refuse to collaborate with the change. In passive aggression, for example, they may agree and then do nothing to fulfill their commitments. This can be very difficult to address, as resisters have not particularly done anything wrong. One way to address this is to get public commitment to an action (and you can start small on this), then follow up -- publicly if necessary -- to ensure they complete the action. Then keep repeating this until they are either bought in or give in. Active resistance Active resistance occurs where people are taking specific and deliberate action to resist the change. It may be overt, with such as public statements and acts of resistance, and it may be covert, such as mobilizing others to create an underground resistance movement. Overt active resistance, although potentially damaging, is at least visible and you have the option of using formal disciplinary actions (although more positive methods should normally be used first). When it is covert, you may also need to use to covert methods to identify the source and hence take appropriate action.

Dealing With Resistance


Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to change > Dealing With Resistance Facilitation | Education | Involvement | Negotiation | Manipulation | Coercion | See also

Here is a small raft of things you can do to handle resistance, starting with kind and moral approaches and ending with the harsher end of gaining compliance. This whole site has fleets other things you can do, of course.

Facilitation
The best approach to creating change is to work with them, helping them achieve goals that somehow also reach to the goals of the change project. When you work with people, they will be happier to work with you. This is a good practice when people want to collaborate but are struggling to adjust to the situation and achieve the goals of change.

Education
When people are not really bought into the rationale for the change, they may well come around once they realize why the change is needed and what is needed of them. In particular, if new skills are required, you can provide these via a focused course of education.

Involvement
When people are not involved physically or intellectually, they are unlikely to be involved emotionally either. One of the best methods of getting people bought in is to get them involved. When their hands are dirty, they realize that dirt is not so bad, after all. They also need to justify their involvement to themselves and so persuade themselves that is the right thing to do.

Negotiation
When the other person cannot easily be persuaded, then you may need to give in order to get. Sit them down and ask what they are seeking. Find out what they want and what they will never accept. Work out a mutually agreeable solution that works just for them and just for you.

Manipulation
Manipulation means controlling a person's environment such that they are shaped by what is around them. It can be a tempting solution, but is morally questionable and, if they sense what you are doing, will lead to a very dangerous backlash. Only consider this when change is necessary in the short term and all other avenues have been explored.

Coercion
Even more extreme than subtle manipulation is overt coercion. This is where you sit them down and make overt threats, for example that if they do not comply that they will lose their jobs, perhaps in a humiliating and public sacking. This should only be used when speed is of the essence or when the other person themselves has taken to public and damaging actions.

How to Cause Resistance


Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to change > How to Cause Resistance

Here are just a few of the ways you can cause people to resist the change: Resist the resistance, fighting back. Do not use your sponsors. Try to do everything yourself.

Allow sponsors to be non-committal about the change. Use threats and aggressive language. Avoid talking to individual people. Avoid listening to people. Do not visit the various teams affected. Spend more time with your allies (and avoiding the troublemakers). Ignore those who resist. Keep your fingers crossed they will give up. Tell people about your plans and then ignore the plans. Give lots of rational reasons why people should do as you say. Dive into the details before they have bought the big picture. Do not test that people have understood what you have said. Lose faith yourself in the change. Be vague about what the change will be. Avoid being the messenger of bad news. Collude with the other person. Produce non-specific plans. Expect people to instantly understand what took you three weeks to figure out. Publicly and aggressively punish those who object. Shout down anyone who disagrees. Do not change reward systems to align with the change. Make 'an exception' for talented people who resist.

Responding to Unexpected Resistance


Disciplines > Change Management > Resistance to change > Responding to Unexpected Resistance Pause | Listen | Empathize | Think | Respond | See also

What happens when you are in the middle of a conversation or meeting and someone speaks out against the change?

Pause
The natural tendency of many people is to respond immediately, perhaps butting in or cutting the other person short. The voice may be authoritarian and tinged with anger. But think how this appears to other people? The message being sent is 'public disagreement is not allowed'. A likely effect is that the person resisting now has the sympathy of others (and may recruit the others to their cause). It is also very likely that the resistance will just go underground. So the very first thing is to bite your lip, hold your tongue and count to three. Take a moment topause and assess the situation. What are others doing? Is the person speaking cautious or bold? What does the body language tell you?

Listen
The next step is to listen carefully not only to what they are saying but also to how they are saying it. Listen for the deeper messages between the lines. Listen to their fears, hopes and ambitions. Hear the tensions and emotions. Notice how they are coping. You can also draw out further information, tipping the bucket to ensure you have the whole story. Use appropriate questioning techniques to learn more.

Empathize

Make your initial response one that empathizes with their position. Show first that you understand (even though you may not agree) and respect their right to voice an honest opinion. This and other previous action will have won you many friends -- perhaps even the person in question who may have been expecting you to resist their resistance (which is just what it would be) and is preparing for a fight. When people expect a fight and find only concern, the surprise is likely to change their opinion.

Think
Before you open your mouth, think hard about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Done wrong, a response will show your empathy to be false and may cause a bitter backlash.

Respond
Respond in a way that offers the other person a dignified way out. Seek win-win. Use their language.Reframe their position to show a bigger picture.

Resisting persuasion
Techniques > Resisting persuasion

Being persuaded is something that happens to all of us at various times. The problem is that many of us later regret having been taken in and wish we were more skilled at resisting the smooth talk of others. For you, here are a set of techniques that can be used to slow down the proceedings and hold your own (and for persuaders, these are just a few of the things you may face). Attack: The best form of defending is sometimes to attack. Attack Negativity: You're just being negative. Bad Idea: Say their proposal is fundamentally flawed. Blame: Make something their fault (and demand reparation). Broken record: Keep repeating your refusal. Can't afford it: Show how you can't afford what is being suggested. Complicated: Make it all very difficult. Confusion: Act confused and put them off their stride. Data dump: When they ask for information, cover them in detail. Digression: Go off on a side track of talk. Denial: Say that something is not true or did not happen. Embrace, extend, extinguish: Pretend to agree then destroy. Escalation: If you are pressured, get help. Fake anger: Get cross and let them try to calm you down. Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD): Sow seeds that make them less certain. Filibustering: Non-stop talk to prevent others making their case. Flight into health: Your problems magically go away. Fuzzing: Keep things abstract and general. Gaze avoidance: Do not get into a staring battle. Gotcha: Lay traps. Hidden Agenda: Claim they have an ulterior purpose. Higher authority: Refer the decision to a higher authority.

High ground: Grab the moral high ground and you are always right. Hmm: Small noises that distract and confuse. Ignorance: Profess ignorance in the topic. I'll think about it: Slow things down. Give yourself time. Illogic: Use arguments that do not make sense. Impracticality: Say 'that won't work' or 'It's only theory'. Inadequate: Say the offering is insufficient. Interruption: Break up their flow with constant interruptions. Mismatching: Do not let them copy you. More data: Keep asking for more data. Name the game: Tell them the tricks they are playing. No Need: Say that it is not needed. Not my job: Refuse work by claiming it is not your job. Not Now: Do not refuse -- just put it off. Not surprised: Don't be impressed, whatever they do. Only theory: Discount ideas and explanations as 'only theory'. Penny and Bun: You can get both. Pre-empting: Destroy their argument before they begin. Procrastination: Put off until tomorrow the things you're asked to do. Propagate Problem: Make problem cause of more. Reversal: Turn the tables and persuade them! Qualifications: Counter a show of qualifications with better ones. Say no: Just say no. That's all. Selective response: Only answer some things. Ignore the rest. Silence: Say nothing (and watch them squirm). Splitting hairs: Argue the detail. Stonewalling: Holding to one position, no matter what is said. Surprised: Be shocked that they would say such a thing. Tears: If you can, get upset and turn on the tears. Too...: Too early, too late, too expensive, etc. Too Hard: It's just too difficult for me/us. Too Much: More than I need/can do. Tried it: Say you've tried what is being suggested before (and it didn't work). Trivializing: Making things smaller than they are. Truth: Telling the truth 'shall set you free'. Unavailable: When they try to see you, be unavailable. Unfair process: Object to the process. Say it's unfair. Untried: Say it's not proven. What about: Complexify by asking 'what about...'. Won't work: Say that what is suggested will not work. Wrong Reason: Say they are missing the point. Yes, but: Agree, then show how they are wrong. Yes, yes, no: Agree until you are asked to commit. Then say no.

Organizational Change: 8 Reasons Why People Resist Change


by ROBERT TANNER on JANUARY 2, 2010

With the rate of technological growth, our Information Age, and the global economy, change is now the normal state of business. Organizational change does not come easy, however. As many as two-thirds of organizational total quality management efforts fail. Senior sponsors of the change often blame its failure on employee and middle manager resistance to change. At times, this is true. More often, however, senior leaders and managers overestimate how much change they can force on the organization. Some also do not understand how difficult it is to lead and implement change effectively. Leading and implementing change requires people skills! 8 Reasons Why People Resist Change As I coach managers on their change management efforts, I explain that resistance to change is rarely irrational. Their employees and their peers are resisting their change efforts from a perspective that makes perfect sense to them. In practice, there are 8 common reasons why people resist change: (1) Loss of status or job security in the organization. It is not our nature to make changes that we view as harmful to our current situation. In an organizational setting, this means employees, peers, and managers

will resist administrative and technological changes that result in their role being eliminated or reduced. From their perspective, your change is harmful to their place in the organization! Forcing the change has its place. This approach alone is ineffective however. Managers who overuse this approach will harm their effectiveness over the long term. Without a thoughtful change strategy to address this area, leaders will trigger strong resistance and organizational turnover. (2) Non-reinforcing reward systems. There is a common business saying that managers get what they reward. Organizational stakeholders will resist change when they do not see any rewards. When working with managers, I will ask them, Where is the reward to employees for implementing your change? Without a reward, there is no motivation to support the change over the long term. This often means that organizational reward systems must be altered to support the change that management wants to implement. The change does not have to always be major or costly. (3) Surprise and fear of the unknown. The less the organization knows about the change and its impact on them, the more fearful they become. Leading change also requires not springing surprises on the organization! The organization needs to be

prepared for the change. In the absence of continuing two-way communication with leadership, grapevine rumors fill the void and sabotage the change effort. (4) Peer pressure. Whether we are introverted or extroverted, we are still social creatures. Organizational stakeholders will resist change to protect the interests of a group. This could be employees resisting change to protect their co-workers. Managers will resist change to protect their work group. (5) Climate of mistrust. Meaningful organizational change does not occur in a climate of mistrust. Trust, involves faith in the intentions and behavior of others. Mutual mistrust will doom an otherwise well-conceived change initiative to failure. (6) Organizational politics. Some resist change as a political strategy to prove that the decision is wrong. They may also resist to show that the person leading the change is not up to the task. They are committed to seeing the change effort fail. (7) Fear of failure. Sweeping changes on the job can cause employees to doubt their capabilities to perform their duties. What is known is comfortable! Employees resist these

changes because they are worried that they cannot adapt to new work requirements. (8) Lack of tact or poor timing. Sometimes it is not what a leader does, but it is how s/he does it that creates resistance to change! Undue resistance can occur because changes are introduced in an insensitive manner or at an awkward time. For any significant organizational change effort to be effective, organizational leadership must prepare a comprehensive change strategy to address these barriers. Business Consulting Solutions LLC. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

What Is Organizational Change and Why People Resist


Organizations, just like everything under the sun, are constantly subject to change. When an organization stops changing, it also stops growing and maturing. Thus, a leader must have a clear vision of what needs to be changed within the organization, create plans for the achievement of the desired goal, and develop strategies to implement them. Technically, the entire process of organizational change is easy to understand. It is the leader who should visualize the change, acquire resources for its fulfillment, and execute plans into reality. But whats harder to comprehend is why people in the organization resist changes. The hard part is dealing with people and encouraging them to support the organizational change. Frequently, this resistance to change creates problems for the leader and the entire organization. Resistance to change causes delay in progress, dilution of loyalty to the management, decrease in productivity and dissatisfaction among the ranks. It would take a skillful leader to rise above this resistance and initiate the change by gradually gaining the support of organizational members. Reasons Why People Resist Changes Within The Organization: 1. Fear of the unknown. This is the dominant emotion that pervades human beings when faced with the possibility of doing something new or which has never been tried before. Fear of the unknown paralyzes an individual to think, move and act productively. Very often, this fear is expressed in language like this: It cant be done We have never tried that before Its too risky The solution for this fear is to let organizational members become familiar with the proposed change plan. The leader should create programs that are aimed at familiarizing the members with the visions and goal of the change. 2. Lack of information. Very often, people resist change simply because they dont have enough background knowledge and information about it. When implementing organizational change, it is the role of the leader to communicate relevant information and details to the people in the organization. The members must be given

adequate facts and understanding about the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed change. They must also be briefed regarding the benefits of the desired change if achieved. 3. Personal Interests and Ulterior Motives. A lot of people resist change, not because they think it is a bad idea, but because they are protecting their own interests and motives. When a leader decides to change some things for the better, the tendency is to clash with the interests of the members of the group. For example, changing the organizational structure may end the political plans of many people within the management team. For a leader to succeed in this area, he must be able to unite all team effort, discourage ulterior motives, and influence all key members to work towards the common good. Instead of escaping change, the leader must embrace it! Change is like a pregnant woman waiting to give birth. Before giving birth, the mother first needs to go through pains and pangs. In the same manner, an organizational leader should also go through challenges, resistance and hardships to be able to implement major changes within the firm.

Ten Reasons People Resist Change


by Rosabeth Moss Kanter | 12:00 PM September 25, 2012

Comments (106)

Leadership is about change, but what is a leader to do when faced with ubiquitous resistance? Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage to outright rebellions. The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance in each situation and then strategize around them. Here are the ten I've found to be the most common. Loss of control. Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they've lost control over their territory. It's not just political, as in who has the power. Our sense of self-determination is often the first things to go when faced with a potential change coming from someone else. Smart leaders leave room for those affected by change to make choices. They invite others into the planning, giving them ownership. Excess uncertainty. If change feels like walking off a cliff blindfolded, then people will reject it. People will often prefer to remain mired in misery than to head toward an unknown. As the saying goes, "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." To overcome inertia requires a sense of safety as well as an inspiring vision. Leaders should create certainty of process, with clear, simple steps and timetables. Surprise, surprise! Decisions imposed on people suddenly, with no time to get used to the idea or prepare for the consequences, are generally resisted. It's always easier to say No than to say Yes. Leaders should avoid the temptation to craft changes in secret and then announce them all at once. It's better to plant seeds that is, to sprinkle hints of what might be coming and seek input. Everything seems different. Change is meant to bring something different, but how different? We are creatures of habit. Routines become automatic, but change jolts us into consciousness, sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Too many differences can be distracting or confusing. Leaders should try to

minimize the number of unrelated differences introduced by a central change. Wherever possible keep things familiar. Remain focused on the important things; avoid change for the sake of change. Loss of face. By definition, change is a departure from the past. Those people associated with the last version the one that didn't work, or the one that's being superseded are likely to be defensive about it. When change involves a big shift of strategic direction, the people responsible for the previous direction dread the perception that they must have been wrong. Leaders can help people maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honoring, and making it clear that the world has changed. That makes it easier to let go and move on. Concerns about competence. Can I do it? Change is resisted when it makes people feel stupid. They might express skepticism about whether the new software version will work or whether digital journalism is really an improvement, but down deep they are worried that their skills will be obsolete. Leaders should over-invest in structural reassurance, providing abundant information, education, training, mentors, and support systems. A period of overlap, running two systems simultaneously, helps ease transitions. More work. Here is a universal challenge. Change is indeed more work. Those closest to the change in terms of designing and testing it are often overloaded, in part because of the inevitable unanticipated glitches in the middle of change, per "Kanter's Law" that "everything can look like a failure in the middle." Leaders should acknowledge the hard work of change by allowing some people to focus exclusively on it, or adding extra perqs for participants (meals? valet parking? massages?). They should reward and recognize participants and their families, too, who often make unseen sacrifices. Ripple effects. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, change creates ripples, reaching distant spots in everwidening circles. The ripples disrupt other departments, important customers, people well outside the venture or neighborhood, and they start to push back, rebelling against changes they had nothing to do with that interfere with their own activities. Leaders should enlarge the circle of stakeholders. They must consider all affected parties, however distant, and work with them to minimize disruption. Past resentments. The ghosts of the past are always lying in wait to haunt us. As long as everything is steady state, they remain out of sight. But the minute you need cooperation for something new or different, the ghosts spring into action. Old wounds reopen, historic resentments are remembered sometimes going back many generations. Leaders should consider gestures to heal the past before sailing into the future. Sometimes the threat is real. Now we get to true pain and politics. Change is resisted because it can hurt. When new technologies displace old ones, jobs can be lost; prices can be cut; investments can be wiped out. The best thing leaders can do when the changes they seek pose significant threat is to be honest, transparent, fast, and fair. For example, one big layoff with strong transition assistance is better than successive waves of cuts.

Although leaders can't always make people feel comfortable with change, they can minimize discomfort. Diagnosing the sources of resistance is the first step toward good solutions. And feedback from resistors can even be helpful in improving the process of gaining acceptance for change. 14 CommentsPosted in: Change Management | Tags: Business Improvement, Change Management,Culture Change, Employee Engagement, Performance Management | By: Torben Rick | May 23, 2011
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Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start of your change management progamme will allow you to effectively manage objections. Understanding the most common reasons people object to change gives you the opportunity to plan your change strategy to address these factors. Its not possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change. Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a proactive step. Recognizing behaviors that indicate possible resistance will raise awareness of the need to address the concerns. Classic psychological reactions to change:

At the end of the day all sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged and peoples emotions validated. Its far better to anticipate objections than to spend your time putting out fires, and knowing how to overcome resistance to change is a vital part of any change management plan.

12 typical reasons for resistance to change: 1. Misunderstanding about the need for change/when the reason for the change is unclear If staff do not understand the need for change you can expect resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works welland has done for twenty years! 2. Fear of the unknown One of the most common reasons for resistance is fear of the unknown. People will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe and perhaps more importantly, feel that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction 3. Lack of competence This is a fear people will seldom admit. But sometimes, change in organizations necessitates changes in skills, and some people will feel that they wont be able to make the transition very well 4. Connected to the old way If you ask people in an organization to do things in a new way, as rational as that new way may seem to you, you will be setting yourself up against all that hard wiring, all those emotional connections to those who taught your audience the old way and thats not trivial 5. Low trust When people dont believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance 6. Temporary fad When people belief that the change initiative is a temporary fad 7. Not being consulted If people are allowed to be part of the change there is less resistance. People like to know whats going on, especially if their jobs may be

affected.Informed employees tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction than uninformed employees 8. Poor communication Its self evident isnt it? When it comes to change management theres no such thing as too much communication 9. Changes to routines When we talk about comfort zones were really referring to routines. We love them. They make us secure. So theres bound to be resistance whenever change requires us to do things differently 10. Exhaustion/Saturation Dont mistake compliance for acceptance. People who are overwhelmed by continuous change resign themselves to it and go along with the flow. You have them in body, but you do not have their hearts. Motivation is low 11. Change in the status quo Resistance can also stem from perceptions of the change that people hold. For example, people who feel theyll be worse off at the end of the change are unlikely to give it their full support. Similarly, if people believe the change favours another group/department/person there may be (unspoken) anger and resentment 12. Benefits and rewards When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start of your change management progamme will allow you to effectively manage objections. Not dealing proactively is one pitfall but there are many other common mistakes: