How frequent do you hear the following in your conversation about change?
- Customer support doesn’t have access to the system
- The gatekeeper checks the form before it is handed over for date entry
- It is not the responsibility of returns processing to speak with customers
- Marketing needs to approve the advertisement copy for the campaign
- The admin clerk doesn’t have the aptitude to take on the expanded role
- The advisor is too busy to complete the client agreement properly
- The trouble ticket has to go through tier 2 support first
- The work order is held up because the account for the labour charge hasn’t been corrected
- There is a policy on product returns that must be followed
- We do the validation but the alert on problems goes through another area
These are sample reasons why your proposed change would not work. They are change resistance in disguise. If you read between the lines, it gives you more ammunition to press forward with the change.
In order to overcome resistance, you need to take a firm position:
1. Demonstrate unfettered commitment to improve
This calls for a solid decision backed by senior management to move forward with the change. There is clear communication of the need substantiated by the risks the company is exposed to. The commitment projects a sense of urgency that the status quo is unsustainable.
2. Rally for coherent support
To avoid roadblocks triggered by resistance, start early to rally for support from key influencers. The influencers help to propel the change effort because they inherently develop a sense of accountability for the success of the initiative.
3. Eliminate wishy-washy options
Conservative options that preserve some degree of the status quo is inviting to those who prefer to stay in their comfort zone. Giving them a choice is a recipe for jeopardizing the change effort. There is no room for wishy-washy options because they are timid changes that won’t drive the results you set out to achieve.
4. Move quickly
A lack of momentum is perceived as a sign of indecisiveness that could lead to questionable priority. Others might think that a lackadaisical approach would be acceptable. This gives those who want to stall the change more time to create resistance. On the contrary, making expedient decisions and executing with speed generate assertiveness.
5. Stand firm on the best solution
When a sound solution that satisfies the change objectives is reached, shift the focus to implementation. Look out for excuses that stall progress or attempts to compromise the result. Tweaking might be necessary but do validation often to ensure that the intent is not lost.
It is human nature to resist change. It takes effort to change a routine, to learn a new skill, and to build new working relationships. For the change leaders, it is necessary to stay focused and not be swayed by roadblocks that stall the effort.