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Friday, October 27, 2006

Managing Resistance To Change

"Why is it that most organizations struggle mightily to make real change?

Whether it is consolidating a merger, re-engineering business processes, restructuring, changing value propositions, introducing new IT systems, relocating premises, or any other type of change, all too often the process is derailed by the resistance of employees.

Resistance to change is one of the most powerful drivers of human behavior, and the key to dealing with it effectively is to understand both its physical and emotional components."

In this article on CEO Refresher, Anne Riches talks about our innate "fight or flight" ressponse, and reveals "It is the reason why all too often, human beings automatically react to change with resistance, even before they fully understand the nature of the change."

Our brains are hard wired to do three things:

  1. match patterns,
  2. resist or fight any threats to survival,
  3. and respond first with emotion over logic.
The only way to overcome this resistance is to convince employees that the changes or new initiatives enhance their ability to 'survive'.

What can be done to help manage resistance to change?
  1. Try focusing on shifting the emotional response. Show why the need for change is urgent and changing now will help ensure the survival of the company.
  2. Challenge pre-existing patterns and memories, address history, look at the good things that have occurred, validate them and then show why the patterns need to change.
  3. Build in ways to reinforce the new patterns. Milestones reached, goals kicked. Have celebrations - connect new patterns with good emotional memories not bad ones. But don't be surprised if this seems to take a long time.

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