Bob: Hi Walter, how was your team session on developing a new vision?
Walter: Well Bob, it was a good session overall. However three of my team members weren't too enthusiastic. They were busy gossiping about our new boss, Sheila. And silently but deliberately they chose not to come up with solutions, ignoring existing problems, and refusing to accept me as their leader. And to be very frank Bob, it's not the first time that they are behaving like this. Ever since our new boss has taken charge these three have been feeling insecure. It's upset them and they have just been behaving differently ever since.
Bob: You mean to say that these three are currently in the 'resistance' mode.
Walter: You think so Bob?
Usually, like the instance above, resistance is just a cover up to start with. However, if there is a public outcry, then something is definitely wrong with either the vision or the objective behind change. If the group resisting change is larger than the usual 10 to15 % and refuses to co-operate, then you ought to pay attention, look at each step critically, and check for instances that can take the project off-track. Covert resistance and the silent majority are normal at the beginning of any change process. However, these people and their feelings must never be ignored. They also need to be dealt with in a timely and effective manner. It should not come to pass that this covert and silent majority group becomes the ticking time-bomb at a later stage. To manage them you must first recognize them. You can do so by looking out for a certain kind of behavioural pattern:
Continuously asking for details even when the information is not required.
Disinterest in project activities.
Coming up with reasonable sounding excuses to avoid sticking to agreements.
Gossiping and talking negatively about key project players.
Bringing to focus that which has gone wrong, or is about to go wrong. Never accepting that which went well.
Focussing on problems not solutions.
An attitude of indifference. Unwillingness to put in time, effort, and energy into the project.
Blaming circumstances for failure instead of owning up to responsibilities.
Lacking personal vision.
Inability to see advantages the project will bring about for both them and the organization.
Tendency to spend more time preparing instead of implementing.
Involved in spreading predictions of doom.
These are typical behavioural patterns that you can observe. And you should be able to anticipate these. The more aware you are of the people and their behaviour towards change, the more creatively you will be able to manage their resistance. It is upto you, how you ultimately mould the thought process of this vast silent majority.