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Why is Change so Hard?

  • By faber
  • August 29, 2017

Whether the change involves diet, exercise, habits, dependencies, organizational change or anything else, change is one of the hardest things any of us will ever try for. Across industries and sectors, the record for organizational change is unimpressive. Research says that 50-75% of change efforts fail.

The only constant in any business is change, change has an interesting way of affecting people that can often result in resistance. The biggest stumbling block to successful organizational change is people.

Before making any changes it is important for any organization to think through following:
• What is the change?
• How important is the change?
• Whom will the change impact?
• How will it impact them?
• How will they react to the change?

Understanding the above aspects will make the process of implementing the change easier and smoother. There will always involve resistance to change and it will be from people in the organization. Let us look at why people resist:

1. Fear of the unknown: When the change happens without prior intimation, then there will be resistance from the people. They need to be helped through the process of understanding how will change impact their work. If this is not done they will push back against the change due to the fear of unknown

2. Trust in leadership: The leader needs to build the feeling of trust in the team/workgroup. The team will be more accepting to any changes if they trust the leader who is the catalyst of change. If there is lack of trust in the leader then this lack of trust itself can manifest into resistance to change.

3. Insecurity: This type of resistance occurs when companies are making a change in the organizational structure or if there is any sort of restructuring or downscaling. People are always insecure of their stability and fear the same.

4. Timing matters the most: Putting too much change on the employees over a short span of time can cause a lot of friction and resistance. Timing is very important. Change needs to be implemented at right time with the right level of insight and understanding.

5. Individual’s perception of change: Different people have different level of tolerance when it comes to accepting change. Some of them enjoy as they feel it is challenging and gives them the opportunity to explore and learn new things and thus grow professionally and personally. Others avoid change since they are happy with the set routine cycle.

Now that we have understood why people resist change, let us look at how we manage this resistance:

1. Identify the source of resistance: Identify which individual or group has the biggest potential to oppose positive change. Then you have to separate them. Doing so begins with understanding their perspectives. They might be doing this because either they don’t agree with your analysis of the problem or they think they have unique experience, expertise, or information that hasn’t been sufficiently considered. Another reason people might resist is that they feel rushed. They don’t have enough time to assimilate the new road or manage with the situation emotionally.

2. Talking with the resistors: As you talk to people who resist change, keep in mind the below pointers

• Forget efficiency: Change cannot be hurried into. It needs to be introduced subtly. It does not happen over email or webcasts. You need to personally talk to your people about it. If an individual or a work group is of importance to your organization, and they are resisting change then you need to talk to them in person, show to them the reason behind that change and give them the time they need to accept it.

• Focus on listening: Being a good listener is the first step, to introducing the change to the people. However great your business plan is, you must make everyone feel understood.

• Be open to change yourself: Have an open attitude. Be ready to learn something new and edit your plans if needed. If a resistor senses you are listening only to get what you want then he/she would not open up and definitely won’t get involved in the change. Make the resistor feel that their opinions/feelings matter when making decisions related to change

• Have multiple conversations: In the first conversation, listen to the reason of resistance and understand it. In the second conversation, your goal is to make clear that you have reflected on what you heard; to summarize what will be different, or not, in your approach to the change based on that conversation; and to explain why.

Do not respond immediately in between the two conversations, as the resistor would feel that you have not fully analyzed their point of view. But do not wait too much as well, since at that point the person feels ignored and elapsed.

Effective change management is critical to the vitality and progress of every organization. Where most people trip up is in failing to manage resistance effectively. Doing so requires an ability to listen to your resistor, analyze their aversion, consider their thoughts and feelings, and explain how it has changed your thinking, if not your plan. This is a time-consuming but effective process.

Written By Faber Mayuri Pandya