Ever noticed how some of us shy away from the thought of some major change to our role, organisation or even just a new process? For most of us, change requires a ‘lightbulb’ moment, a moment of understanding and revelation in what may at first seem an adverse situation.
‘Insights and understanding of change needs to be generated from within, not given to individuals as conclusions’
Rock and Schwartz
Next time, when faced with resistance or fear of change, consider some of the following practical strategies in helping people attain that ‘lightbulb’ moment quicker:
- Involve People in Change. Not many of us like major changes being imposed upon us with no involvement, consultation or at least explanation: typically as humans we don’t like change being ‘done’ to us. Respect people as individuals, involve them in understanding the change and engage them along the journey.
- Change involves learning. Anything new involves old ways to be ‘unlearned’ and new ways to be learned. Recognise that people may have learning anxiety (Schein) – feelings of frustration and incompetence (‘I could do it with my eyes closed previously, now it’s taking me twice as long…’). Learning involves making mistakes in a forgiving environment and the ability to experiment, balanced with appropriate training, ongoing support and guidance.
- Lead people through the change process. Identify and deal with what is ending (‘you mean we won’t be doing it like this anymore…’), help people navigate through the unknown to the new world – the journey will have disruptions, there may be tight corners and cliffs before we can be effective with new ways.
- Recognise the potential of your people. Change can be an opportunity to achieve and grow, given autonomy and respect. Sometimes the least expected person can thrive under change and help others succeed. Empower people as part of change – don’t underestimate natural resilience.
- Acknowledge that people are different. Some of your people will adapt to change faster, some will take longer, some will determinedly resist to the end, and some will just accept. Don’t expect everyone to react the same – cater accordingly when engaging and communicating. Everyone will react, in their own way, in their own time; recognise that there will be a natural ebb and flow of resistance and acceptance.
- Remember the power of the right communications at the right time. We all know the significance of communication and engagement (consider a time when you have been left in the dark…). Communications need to address everything from the benefits of the change, the day-to-day practicalities of change, to the impact on performance during the change. Remember ‘noise’ such as technical jargon, past experiences, and perceptions can interfere and act as a barrier to effective communications. Consider tone and style along with catering for different personality preferences. Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your communications throughout the change – don’t leave people in the dark.
Resistance to change can be embodied in many ways – fear, silence, vocal dismay, under performance to conflict and sabotage. Remember that change takes time – allow people the time to connect the dots and reach their ‘lightbulb’ moment.
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