Sunday, April 20, 2014

Are We Really Resistant to Change?

Many articles and discussions these days seem to focus on ‘managing change’ and how employees are simply resistant to it. You’ll find some of the most respected guru’s making change sound like something hard and impossible to achieve. But is this more of a self-fulfilling prophecy – than the truth?
Change in the 21st Century seems to be the rule rather than the exception – change is occurring around us on a regular basis. Whether it’s associated with telecommunications, IT, pharmaceuticals, automotive, or new product development within any other sector we, the consumer, often seek new and exciting products and services that either make our lives easier (perceived or real) or because we just like to feel we are keeping up with the times (if we can afford it).
Looking at the younger generations they virtually demand ‘change’ on a regular basis, whether it’s new and upgraded games or new technologies, they get bored very quickly with the same thing and, to be honest, are ‘nectar’ to many organisations as they are seemingly constantly looking for ‘new’ and ‘quirky’ products that ‘excite’ them and are happy to buy them on a regular basis – the only problem to the firms servicing this market is the amount of consumable income their target market have – but in real terms this doesn’t seem to be holding organisations back from constant innovation and change (and making significant revenue in the process).
So if we are wired for change as consumers, why is it assumed that we aren’t wired for change as employees? And is it the actual change employees are resistant to or the methodologies employed to communicate and/or implement it?
It’s a simple fact that we can’t progress without change and hence in highly competitive markets organisations need to change on a regular basis. Change should be fun and exciting, something employees look forward to as it either make their lives easier and/or grows the revenue of the organisation they work for (which hopefully will be good for them to).
To be part of a pioneering company is an exciting place to be as you are part of the creation of ‘new’ things on a regular basis. You go home at the end of the day knowing you are striving to create something new – push the boundaries for you industry or business in general.
So if change can be ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’ what’s the real problem? Well sadly it’s the way change is managed and lead. Change is an inclusive process not an exclusive one. It’s a process where, to be successful, you need to involve the entire organisation. You need to have the patience and communication skills to ‘sell’ the change to the organisation and create an exciting future vision that employees want to be part of.
It’s firstly the failure to create this exciting vision that creates resistance to change in organisations and then it’s the failure of the leadership to make the process inclusive and ‘fun’. For some reasons leaders who don’t understand ‘change’ make it seem like they are weighing the employees down with more work and constant ‘drudgery’ – which has the instant effect of demotivating the employee base who then, due to lack of positive communication from the leadership, convince themselves through ‘office chats’ that this change is nothing short of a nightmare for them.
Change is part of life and organisations should be changing on a regular basis just to keep up these days. All employees are used to change in their personal lives and often seek it out – so they are wired for change. So the ‘power’ rests with the leadership to make change inclusive, exciting and fun – something that all employees want to willingly be part of. They are attracted by firstly, the future vision and secondly, the process that’s going to be applied (i.e. they are excited by their role in the change and appreciate the recognition they get for their part of the process).
So simply put it’s not change that’s the problem – it’s the fact that in those cases where there’s resistance leaders simply don’t know how to manage it and haven’t ‘sold’ a compelling vision.
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t change we aren’t really living.” (Gail Sheehy)

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