Recognizing resistance
Resistance - Part 1
When leaders initiate change in an organization and no unrest or chaos follows, then there has been no real change. If new opportunities do not arise, or people don't experience stress and the need for behavioral change, if there are no new processes to be implemented or targets to be chased, then it cannot be termed as change. Real change involves letting go of that which is old, and welcoming and embracing the new. Real change is tough. So how does one make this paradigm shift?
When change is announced people react differently. Some support, and some reject the initiative. The group size of each kind tends to be similar in size. Towards the latter half of the change initiative, people may swing sides. Those favoring it may start resisting and vice versa. Then there is the silent majority, the neutral lot that just waits and watches. People's personal experiences and attitude in life plays a critical role in determining the amount of resistance one faces.
One would do well to keep a few things in mind while preparing to manage resistance:
  • Our assumptions, beliefs, and instinctive reactions have a direct effect on our ability as a leader. The greater the pressure to manage change within a stipulated time frame, the more we tend to rely on our instincts and inner beliefs. It impacts our ability to perceive, and handle change effectively.
  • Your best 'tool' to manage resistance is 'you'. Your experiences and ability to tackle resistance and look beyond will prove to be your greatest asset.
  • At times you may feel that you have no choice. But you always do. A life at work can be one full of valuable personal surprises. Not surprisingly, 78% of (data set of 400 students) MBA students defined change as being inevitable. Change being a constant. Change as life itself.
To manage resistance effectively, and to know how best to focus your attention, it is wise to assess the group size of people favoring or resisting change. As per a standard split by group, 10% tend to be immediately and strongly in favor of change, 15% fall in the immediately, strongly, against change category, 30% will tend to sway and accept change at a later stage or vice versa, and the large silent majority of 45% will adopt a neutral attitude.
So in the retail business case, why was there a lack of commitment? Three key reasons. It is critical that those who will impact or influence the change process are fully involved. One must question oneself about ones attitude as well as commitment towards change. It is imperative that you prepare yourself to be able to fully commit to the change process. At this stage, you may want to re-visit the article 'Stages of Commitment'.
It is human nature to resist change. You will resists anything that removes you from your comfort zone, and takes away from you, that which defines you. Change brings in the feeling of insecurity and instability. Some people accept the challenge, get inspired by that which is new, and are able to fend off the temporary feeling of instability. Others may resist change throughout and it is tough for them. It will be useful for you to recognize the different forms of resistance and know how to deal with them.
Sep 2015