It’s strange in many respects that in this era, when there is and has been so much change happening, people are so resistant to organisational change.
So how do you get people passionate about change? The straight answer to this is – you don’t! Not all of them any way.
Let’s face it – we all have different experiences and different DNA and for some people, being ‘passionate’ is not part of their make-up!
So the bottom line is that not all people will get passionate about change. Having said that, things can be done to get more people on board and supportive of change. And many times, these things need to be seriously considered.
Why do people resist change?
We can gain insights into how to get more people supportive of change by looking at why people resist change. And I think there are only three reasons people resist change in organisations:
- Reason 1: They don’t like their boss(es) – if people don’t like those who are asking them to change, then despite the logical value of the change, people will resist out of retribution. This is all about the relationships
- Reason 2: They don’t like the change itself. This can relate to two separate, but important aspects – the process by which the change was introduced or implemented (ie, the way in which it was done) and/or the content of what is proposed (ie, the what). For example, people will resist change if they feel they weren’t consulted. They’ll also resist if they feel the proposed change doesn’t result in sufficiently important benefits (either to them or the organisation)
- Reason 3: They don’t like the impact it will have on them. For example, change may mean extra work in a context where people are already very busy, or it might expose people’s weaknesses within the ‘new’ environment. This is all about the ‘me’
In addressing change issues in an organisation, we need to consider which of the above is driving resistance, with a view to changing the causal factors.
So what does all this mean?
Let’s take each of these three factors one at a time.
If relationships are poor with bosses, there’s little doubt change initiatives will not reach their potential. If people simply don’t get on with their bosses, they’ll be less enthusiastic about changes. If this is true in an organisation, then people had better start working on improved relationships!
If people don’t like the way in which change had been introduced, or they disagree with the substance of change, then once again, they’ll not embrace it. To prevent this requires consultation – people need to be assured that the process will not overburden them, and they need to be ‘sold’ on the value of the change initiative.
If people are fearful of their own job, or fearful that their inadequacies might be exposed, then naturally, they’ll resist change. So in introducing change, people must be assured their jobs are not threatened. In addition, people may need to be trained to cope with new skills required after the new change. The way this training is handled is critical – as it must respect the existing knowledge and skills of people, and it must be done in a respectful way!