Reasons for Resisting Change

Peter Vajda has a great post over on Slow Leadership titled “Why People Resist Change” that is well worth the time to read.

Peter argues that the reasons people resist change is that they are ‘told’ to change….rather than being ‘asked’ to change.   He writes:

What’s the most common process for introducing change in our organizations? We hold a meeting. Tell people why the change is necessary and give our reasons for the change, the expected benefits and tell them be prepared to do it our way. Then, we become angry and frustrated as all heck when we experience their subsequent resistance and lack of buy-in. Usually, little or no change happens in the long run.

Now…in most instances, the management team have done their homework and really believe that the changes that they trying to implement are the best things for the organization…but they do a poor job of engaging their employees in creating these changes.  This ‘telling’ approach makes employees feel as if management doesn’t really care about them.  Again, Peter writes:

If those in charge take a ‘telling’ approach towards change, in essence they are saying to employees: “We really don’t appreciate you; we really don’t want to include you. You have to change, like it or not.” That’s the perception and we all know perception is reality — especially in workplace situations when change is the issue.

Think about the last time you were told that change was coming.  Were you in complete agreement that it was the right change and it was necessary?   If you are like most people, you might agree that change needs to occur but you aren’t sure that ‘this’ change is necessary or that the implementation of the change is quite right.

What would happen if you were involved from day one in the decision making process?  Peter suggests that:

If you would take the time — and be honest and sincere in your efforts — you could ask people for ideas and be assured they will come up with most of the solutions required for them to do their best, both for themselves and for the good of their team and organization…

….What would it be like if leaders engaged employees in the change process by inviting them to join in the decision-making and problem-solving leading up to the change?

Most organizations can’t involve every single employee in change initiatives but a good cross-section of employees would be better than nothing.  Ask employees what they think about the current environment and what needs to change…most times, they’ll come up with some excellent ideas for change that may have been missed by management alone.   Lastly,  engaging employees in creating change initiatives will normally bring about the proper sense of urgency and ownership required for the change(s) to be successful.

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