Influencing those resistant to change [Guest Blog]

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Influencing those resistant to change

As recent blogs have discussed, influence is an important factor in supporting, encouraging and enabling team members to move as smoothly as possible through the change process.  Despite a high resisted changelevel of influence and effective change management there can often be a minority of individuals who seem to, at best, disengage from the change process and at worst actively resist it.  What could we, or should we, do about these members of the team.  Instinctively we may not want to do anything. If the majority of the business has made the transition effectively we may feel there is no need to spend time with a few people who seem to have been demotivated by the process or indeed may not have been motivated before it.

The challenge here is that it can often be those who are most resistant to change who if more engaged would help embed it.  In Kurt Lewins change model these individuals could be seen as those that do not ‘unfreeze’ easily if at all, that is they are fixed in the old ways and see no reason to change.  Why is this?  Sometimes because working within a known structure provides a stable, safe and understandable environment in which to work.   These individuals are often behaviourally those who have a high attention to detail and good organisational skills.  These are often the team members who before things changed delivered the quality, consistency and standards that your organisation values.

So what can we do to get these individuals to be more open and fluid to join us on the change journey?

Given them detail around the change process – explaining to them in detail what the change process will bring on a practical basis to their individual role and day to day work will provide them with the understanding they need to begin to feel more comfortable about letting go of what they do know.  Be clear and to the point and explain the value they bring to the organisation (assuming they have one, go straight to the last point if not!).  Give them time to think about what you have told them and provide regular updates as you move through the change process

Sell the change in terms of improved security – you can only do this if it’s true!  If the change process will involve downsizing and redundancies then this approach is not going to work.  If the change is about growth then showing the individual what that means to their longer term role within the business can provide the security they need to move forward through a period of flux

Ask for their help – sometimes these individuals have been with your organisation for some time and have lots of knowledge about what goes on and how things are done.  Asking for their input into how to move from where you are now to where the organisation needs to be can help unlock some useful ideas.  The challenge here is to take action on the information provided.  So only ask if you are genuinely interested in what the individual may have to contribute.

Tell them it is happening whether they like it or not! – OK, this may seem harsh although with some resistant individuals saying it like it is can allow them to consider whether they really want to be a part of it and benefit from the outcomes or not, and take action accordingly

If it’s not working support them to do something differently – if after trying some or all of the above the individual remains resistant to what you are trying to achieve ask them if there is something else they would like to do either within your organisation or elsewhere that would better suit their needs and their skills.  Consider giving them some paid holiday to take time to think what they would like to do. You could even support them to look for a job elsewhere while still working for you.  Appreciating that the HR legislators reading this may be in a cold sweat at this point, it is worth a try.  Would you rather help a member of your organisation move on positively or have them remain a barrier to any future change and go through a challenging and potentially expensive legislative process to exit them?


Michelle Herron

Enhance People Consultants Ltd


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