Change is never easy. Change is a bumpy process. Change is uncomfortable. And it create problems.
But why is change so hard?
Leaving the Familiar
Change is hard because it is an emotional experience for most. An emotional experience, particularly an experience one often has little choice in being part of, creates resistance.
Resistance is a natural emotion, though an emotion that can make change even harder.
“All resistance is mobilization of energy, not lack of energy. Those who “resist” are “bundles of energy” not passive, lifeless blobs” – Nevis (1998).
However, resistance must be managed to harness that energy for positive change. Managing resistance requires focusing on not just change, but also transition.
Often in managing change individuals and organizations neglect to address “transition.” According to William Bridges, transition is the psychological movement through the change.
Transition consists of three parts:
- The Ending (of what was)
- The Neutral Zone (muddling and creative period)
- The New Beginning (of what is)
“To ease the difficulties of the change process a focus on transition must run in parallel to a focus on change.”
Change is the actual physical event (merger, new job, graduating from college, getting married, getting divorced, new baby, new grandbaby, new boss, and so on). There are three primary reasons people view change as difficult and thus resist change.
- Loss of self, power, influence, or perceived value
- Having to learn something new
- Lack of understanding on “why” they need to change
Many times people view change as a statement that they are underperforming or not doing a good enough job.
People often see the impending change as a threat to their established reputation, quality of life, or future with the
community. Most people that resist change fear having to learn new skills, concepts, or policies.
Whether it’s learning a new computer system, operational skills or even how to get something approved, organizational improvements and change efforts threaten their current status-quo.
“The way ‘ we have always done it’ works just fine.”
The thought of changing behavior scares people. The majority of people who resist change simply don’t understand why things need to be different. “It’s the way we’ve always done it” is the typical response from this group. Not successfully addressing these issues increases resistance.
“Wherever there is a change effort, there will be resistance” – Beckhard & Pritchard (1992).
Do you resist change? How do you deal with individual and organizational change and transition? Does the idea of a big change strike fear in you, or does it bring optimism and hope? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Scott Span, MSOD is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management Firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
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