How to Counter Resistance to Change

How to Counter Resistance to Change

70% of all change initiatives changing, why is this and what can we as leaders do about it?

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

change resistanceIn business, as leaders and managers, one of the hardest things is to engage others in achieving the business’ goals.

One of the hardest things for leaders and managers to is engage people to willingly work to achieve the business’ goals.

Succeeding in doing this makes all the difference. For the employee, it’s the difference between being micromanaged and being self-motivated. For the organization it’s the difference between passive resistance and energized alignment. And for you, the leader, it’s the difference between frustrating exhaustion and inspired collaboration.

The job of a leader or manager is simple: to influence people. And there’s one defining idea we have in our heads that makes that job harder – we believe that people resist change.

So we do all sorts of things to counter that resistance. We try to motivate or coerce people to change.

But instead of breaking through resistance, we create it. People resist being controlled. And so 70% of all corporate change efforts fail.

Here’s what’s interesting: people freely choose to make major life changes every day. We move, get married, start families, face challenges, learn new technologies, change jobs, and develop new skills. Not all of these changes are smooth. But most of the time we seek those changes ourselves and make them successfully.

So why are people willing to change in one situation and resistant to it in another?

Because people don’t resist change, they resist being changed.

In their personal lives people usually make their own choices. But in organizations they feel coerced. And so they use the only power they have to regain control: resistance.

So how do we avoid or overcome the problem of resistance? The answer is simple – give them control. Let them make decisions. If you offer them two choices and they pick a third you have the opportunity to cede control to them as long as their choice achieves the outcome acceptable to you. Then they own their decision and are happy with it because they made it themselves.

The key is to make it real or you will lose credibility. You have to actually give them some control, while keeping some for yourself, because as a manager, you’re always accountable for the outcome.

So here are the three steps:

  1. Define the outcome you want.
  2. Suggest a path to achieve it.
  3. Allow people to reject your path as long as they choose an alternate route to the same outcome.

By ceding some control, and allowing people to make their own choices, they are motivated and take ownership for achieving the outcomes.  This enables them to actively embrace the change, creating an aligned future for both themselves and business.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

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