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Change Agent Challenge – Overcoming Team Resistance to Change?

By Carla | July 1, 2020
Change Agent Challenge – Overcoming Team Resistance to Change?

It’s an Election year, and once again we are hearing a lot in the news about the need for change. If you are an effective leader, however, you cannot wait 4-years to look for the next change needed to improve your business. One of your most important jobs as a leader is to initiate the changes necessary to keep your business growing and moving forward. All progress requires change. 

If There is No Need for Change, there is No Need for You

John Maxwell has commented that, Status Quo is Latin for “the mess we are in.” And while most leaders know that change is a critical part of their role in growing the business, many struggle implementing the change process with their teams. One reason for this is that change causes a natural resistance in others and can make implementing change a difficult uphill battle. 

It’s Not the Change They Fear

It is often said that people fear change. However, when you think about it, change is a natural part of life and without change you would never do any of the great things you have ever done. What people fear is losing control, and most change leaves people feeling that they have lost control of something they were previously very comfortable with. The resistance you feel from others when you layout the changes that are needed is merely the fight to maintain control, not lose control, or to increase control over areas where they previously felt in control.

Five Questions Your Team May Be Asking

To implement any change, it may be good to address the questions your team are asking whether they say them out loud or not:

  1. Is this really the right time for change? We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. If the team is feeling overworked or under resourced, there will be a natural resistance to any change effort. As the leader, acknowledge this may be true and address it with the team. Agree on priorities. Increase resources. Remove barriers. As the leader, you need to consider the current conditions that are affecting your team before you roll out a new plan for change.
  2. You want us to do what? No one likes to be surprised. Surprising people with a new initiative that will require them to change (lose control) is a recipe for disaster. To help maintain the feeling of control, leaders need to do the advance work necessary to help people feel like they have a voice in what is occurring. We call this the meeting before the meeting.
  3. That would be nice, but WHY? Many change efforts fail because the people tasked with implementing the change are not clear why the changes is being considered. Leaders can increase engagement and buy-in when they communicate (and re-communicate) the purpose of the proposed changes and the expected outcomes. It can also be helpful to communicate the consequences of not changing.
  4. What’s in it for me? Most likely your teammates won’t mean this as selfishly as it sounds, but people do things for their reasons, not for yours. As a leader, if you can help members of your team understand how the change will affect them personally, they will be more likely to embrace, and even take ownership of the change. 
  5. Where are YOU (the Leader) going? If you like throwing the work of change over the wall to the team and leaving the details to them, you will reduce your influence with the team. Leaders need to stay connected. Check-in, listen, observe, and help where needed. If the leader is involved and committed, engagement and buy-in will increase.

Great leaders know that status quo really is not a safe place. If you are not changing and growing, others will pass you by. Your future business success is dependent on your ability to lead and implement change by fully engaging your team for remarkable success.

Professional and personal growth is a catalyst for change. Invest in yours and your team’s growth by registering a group to attend a Public Workshop or host a Private Workshop inside your organization – being offered virtually or in-person.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

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