Change starts with individuals, so don’t forget about the mindset.
Resistance to change. Who’s ever heard of such a thing?⁉️
Well, everyone. 🤷♀️ Resistance to change comes naturally, we all have it. We are designed to put our safety first, focus on preservation, rather than taking too much risk.
Resistance, if it’s improperly managed, can ruin even the best strategies.
Running an organizational transformation means complexity, it takes time, efforts and a lot of changes that usually happen simultaneously. There is a lot of attention drawn to organizational structure, operations, processes, policies. And that’s clearly not a mistake, the risk here is if we overlook the mindset shift, which it’s the most important factor that makes vision’s execution possible.
Besides our natural fear of change, we all have strong beliefs on our own, gained throughout our experiences so far, all of these determining the way we act. It’s not intentionally (or at least not always) that people stand against your strategy, it’s more instinctively as protection of themselves.
If you want a successful transformation, you need all people engaged and ready to contribute to that. And there are a few actions you can do, to better deal with resistance:
🔹Communicate your vision, strategy, tactical plans, status updates, etc. – I already tackled this topic in previous posts. Having more information helps people reduce the anxiety generated mostly by what they imagine could happen. Facts, disregarding how unpleasant might be, are always better than the negative scenarios the human mind can make in such situations. Include in your communication the benefits following the change. People are more likely to jump on board if they think something better coming.
🔹Start from the top. Leaders are the first to drive change, so begin with your executives, senior leaders and add other influencers (officially or not, they exist in every organization). If your leaders change the way they feel, if they start to model their behavior and embrace the transformation, they will become authentic change ambassadors. And it helps a lot, considering the impact that can make inside the organization.
Under these circumstances, people are more likely to join, as we all have the need of belonging, to be part of something.
🔹Offer support in their personal transformation. That could mean coaching, team coaching, workshops, trainings, team meetings, 1 to1 discussions, whatever you think it’s more suitable given the context.
Be supportive and empathic, remember that at least once in your life you have been in their place, remember how you felt.
❓What you would have wanted to get more or less at that time? Dealing with change it’s not easy, but the good news is that we can all get better at it.
🔹Involve people in your transformation process. Encourage bottom-up ideas, let people volunteer for projects, ask for their opinion, ask them to join an action, let them be involved. Even encourage them to challenge the status quo, find ways to make it better. In this way they will feel they are part of the new vision and they might end up enjoying the journey.
🔹Confront and deal with blockers as early as possible. Usually, the people in this category are much more reluctant to change and your efforts in supporting them need to be higher, especially if you want to keep them by your side. Often people are willing to change, but there are still those situations when they simply don’t.
I hear very often – “But it’s a talented employee, very professional, etc., it’s such a pity to lose him/ her” –
I know it’s painful, but if all options have been exhausted, you need to be ready to make tough decisions, otherwise be ready that someone will block your new strategy with a lot of talent. That doesn’t imply that you need to treat them badly, on the contrary, in the toughest situations we need to show the most empathy.
❗️Whatever decisions you make, always treat people in a fair way.
🔹Remember to always be an example of someone with a proper mindset for change.
❓You want everyone else to change, but are you ready to accept new ideas, new perspectives, and change your tactics?
❓Are you ready to listen and recognize a good idea?
You need to show people that you are as flexible as you are asking them to be. In this way you increase trust and commitment.