Change Management for Improvements
When You Think of Improvements, Think of Change Management
The failure of organization change occurs for a variety of reasons, including overreaching, insufficient communication, and the failure to execute.
The process of working with individuals and groups to change systems and practices has no simple recipe, but people’s objections, worries, and fears are likely to contain valuable information that can be used to accelerate and smooth the process.
Resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon in organization change. When we are too quick to label those who raise objections as resistors and dismiss what they have to say as resistance, we overlook opportunities to get the process strengthened and back on track. We also set up a self-fulfilling prophecy where we end up blaming resistance for any difficulties and failure.
Every change is a part of a bigger picture in people’s careers and in the organization’s business processes. Today’s change will be compared to the changes made last year and the changes anticipated for next year.
Complacency, resignation, and cynicism are a predictable part of change communications in every organization. When people learn that something is going to change, or find themselves struggling with changes in their offices, technologies, or operations, their natural response will be easy to perceive, and write off, as resistance.
If managers hope to eliminate all resistance as a strategy for accomplishing change, they are missing an opportunity to learn new ideas on how to execute the change effectively, not to mention wishing for people to be superhuman.
Resistance is energy to be channeled for the benefit of higher objectives. Recognizing that people want to work on something of value, we can remind them of the value of a change initiative and invite their observations and suggestions.
Even working with “difficult people” can provide value when change managers treat communications with respect and are willing to reconsider some aspects of the change to accommodate sub-organizational needs while still fulfilling plan objectives.
Resistance can be understood as the legitimate response of engaged and committed people who want a voice in something that is important to them. It is a sign of engagement, an opening for a dialogue about the realities of the organization and the ways managers can implement their plans and strategies in coherence with those realities. Working with people in an organization to clarify their concerns is a strategy for improving the success of change initiatives.
Change planning and implementation can be made smarter, faster, and cheaper by listening to the feedback embedded in “resistance”.
(Abstract from the source: “Stop Blaming Resistance to Change and Start Using It” | An article by Dr. Jeffrey D. Ford, Associate Professor of Management, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, Columbus and Dr. Laurie W. Ford, Consultant, Critical Path Consultant, Columbus| Published in Organizational Dynamics – Vol. 39, No. 1 pp. 24—36, 2010)