Ideas to Read and Pass Along

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

Are You a Change Resister?

1. Denial

They’re not serious, this will blow over.

Resistance will be less if participants clearly understand the basic problem or opportunity and the consequences to maintaining the status quo. Outline a hypothetical scenario about what will happen if status quo continues to be the norm.

2. Sabotage

I’m not going to accept it—not without a fight!

Anger, frustration, and resentment are wasted energy. As a member of the organization, you may not be able to control the circumstances of change. You can, however, control your reaction to those circumstances. By controlling your emotions and channeling your energy into constructive behaviors, you will be more likely to discover the opportunities that come with change.

3. Complacency

This won’t affect my job—I can keep doing it the way I’ve always done it.

The old cliché “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” simply won’t work any more. If the company is changing faster than you are, the value you add to your organization may be minimized. You should see changes in culture, approach to leadership, structure, priorities, and work pace in the organization as signals that you need to start doing things differently yourself.

4. Criticism

I knew these changes would be bad for the company, look at all the problems we’re having.

Change is a messy process. Change is rarely ever easy. The fact that there are problems doesn’t necessarily mean that the changes are wrong. While change comes with a whole new set of problems, increased stress, and added work, lack of change could leave the company devastated. People who want to learn to make change work for them cannot afford to judge things prematurely.

5. Finger Pointing

Senior management has really screwed things up this time. They’re losing control, they don’t know what they’re doing.

There are no text book solutions for leading transition in a highly complex and rapidly changing environment. Chances are good that the people in charge don’t have it all figured out. Mistakes will be made. But if top managers waited to come up with an error-free approach, the market may change and the industry could pass you by. There is paralysis in analysis. The important thing is to have the right vision and implement a strategy to realize that vision in a timely manner.

6. Distrust

Senior management isn’t telling us everything.

While top management may have a clear vision, the strategy for getting there usually evolves along the way. In times of significant change the most deliberate and well-thought-out plans rarely unfold rationally and logically. Consequently, despite an intensified communication effort, leaders may not have all the information employees want. Leading a change effort is like trying to stay on the cutting edge of a fast breaking story—the facts keep changing.

7. Betrayal

Senior management is out of touch with the “little person,” they don’t care about us.

Major transition and change do not come without casualties. In an effort to keep the organization viable, top management has to make some unpopular decisions. In the process some people get hurt. But this doesn’t mean that management is cold and insensitive. It is possible to care for others, respect their dignity, and value their contributions, and still not be in a position to meet all of their needs.

8. Self-preservation

When this is over I’m not going to have a job.

Security is less likely to come from escaping change than it is from capitalizing on the opportunities it creates. In turbulent times security comes from adding value to the organization, not from a preoccupation with your own survival. Worry is misdirected energy.

The person who embraces change will make himself or herself valuable by becoming attuned to “work needing to be done” even if it falls outside of traditional job descriptions. This perspective can be developed by looking around your organization and asking yourself what needs are not being met. Change agents are people who look for new situations where internal or external changes have left gaps or departments understaffed.

9. Apathy

I am not in a position to affect change. I don’t have the power to make a difference.

During times of major change people often feel helpless and behave reactively. However, your actions and your attitude will either contribute to the problem or contribute to the solution. Your attitude and behavior will have a significant impact on the climate created within your work group. By adopting a proactive stance you can influence others, contribute to the solution and have a positive impact on others.

10. Transference

It’s not my job. Senior management initiated this thing, it’s their job to make it work.

Transferring ownership for the success of a change effort as though you have no responsibility for it is not being a team player. You may not agree with the changes, you may even think they are detrimental to the company and its people, however, if you come to work and accept compensation you should do everything you can to make the change effort a success.