Resistance to Change
Everyone is resistant to change. Why is this? It usually boils down to the fact that change is perceived as a threat.
Some of the specific reasons why people are hesitant to change are as follows:
- Their needs are already being met
- They feel the change will leave them less better off then they currently are
- They do not trust the success of the change
- They do not understand the purpose of the change
As a result, many may come to the conclusion that in some way the change is going to cause a consequence that will be unfavourable to its participants. There is an apparent fear of the unknown or a potential loss. However, this is not always true. Change can be good, and it can result in a more efficient, innovative and/or updated practices.
To implement a change you must be sure that the change is needed and will be beneficial in some way, so that you do not risk losing the trust of the participants by implementing a less successful way of doing things.
The key here is to anticipate people’s resistance to change and find ways to manage their needs and expectations. When a change is to be implemented, you must provide people with sufficient details for them to understand why the change will be beneficial. By doing this, you can influence them to see the change as sometime good, and in turn minimize their fears.
Allowing for people to have a hand in the change process is always a good idea. People need to voice their opinions, and as a leader you must be open to their suggestions. Making people feel like they are important and that they’re not just going to be forced into a new system allows them to adjust peacefully.
You can make this adjustment peaceful by having changes implemented in phases. By doing this, you can address behaviour changes along the way.
Mistakes Made in Managing Change
Through a great deal of research, I have found that there are common mistakes made when a change is to be implemented and managed. The main mistake made is the lack of emphasize put on people’s coping abilities. I have touched on how people’s fears need to be addressed and hopefully have sufficiently inspired you all to see the important people play in successful change.
Another critical mistake is seeing change as an overnight event. Something that you can just put in place and BOOM, there it is. Done and Done. Change is a process! The adjustment is a process, and to be truly successful you have to respect the need for this process.
The following illustration describes visually why a process of adjustment is needed.
As you can see, when a change is put in place, people’s emotions go out-of-whack. They are taken out of their comfort zone, and a transition begins. Allowing them to smoothly adjust to the change, and begin their way uphill is an important part of managing the change. The main goal is to help them get to the top, where they are knowledgeable, and integrate themselves into accepting the change.
Just as important is the process, is the explanation of the change. People need to be aware of what the change will create. There must be a rational explanation of the need for the change, and people have to be knowledgeable of what the change is to accomplish.
Correct Ways to Manage Change
Even though you are allowing for an adjustment process, you have to be committed to the change and make sure everyone else is committed too. You cannot go half-way with changing policies or procedures. This will just allow for people to be confused about the new system, and wary of its success.
A specific outline for the changes to be made can help clarify your expectations of people through the change adjustment period. Defining the problem and what you have decided on as an appropriate solution will help solidify what needs to be done to manage the necessary changes.
Continue to monitor the success of the changes. Note those who have made efforts to adjust to the change, and find ways to reward their efforts. This recognition or rewarding process will help encourage others to mimic these positive behaviours.
All in all, when it comes down to managing change, you must manage the people who make the change possible.
Beer, M., & Nohria, N. (n.d.). Breaking the Code of Change. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from Google Books: http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZdXT0h62g1IC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=managing+change+effectively&ots=DipvHc2BRg&sig=yLZdZyxigCVC2I4z3ev_7Gk-Jok#v=onepage&q=managing%20change%20effectively&f=false
JB Consulting. (n.d.). Managing Change Effectively. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from JB Consulting: http://www.jbconsulting.co.uk/jb_pdf/JB_managingchange.pdf
Lee, S. (n.d.). Managing Resistance to Change. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from Business Improvement Architects: http://www.bia.ca/articles/chng-managing-resistance.htm
Straker, D. (n.d.). Rationale for Resistance. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from Changing Minds: http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/resistance_change/rationale_resistance.htm