You don’t have to change – Survival is optional! How to mitigate the resistance?

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November 1, 2014 by Greg Wisniewski

This quote of Edward Deming made me laugh recently – ironic comment, when it comes to the necessity of change for every organization (I referred to this necessity in my first post – Omnipresent change reveals true leader). Then, I stopped smiling and thought – well this wouldn’t work well if such a sentence would be used towards any person, would it?

This shows exactly the struggle of today’s world – it is merciless for companies saying adapt or die ,but it is not so easy as to made it you need all people within the organization need to be on board. It is difficult due to so-called resistance.

That is when finally change management – and more precisely leading transition – becomes helpful. Change is nothing else than trying to influence people to behave in a certain way, to achieve some rational targets – sometimes even of critical importance for company survival. Resistance is nothing else than opposition undermining the changes for any reason by active or passive work against the imposed change.


How change management can help?

  1. Expect the resistance

Resistance is natural part of the change process, get ready for facing it. The only thing which differs or can be impacted by your actions is the intensity and power – see point 2.

Resistance is part of getting out of the comfort zone move, as people like to stand by the known rather than facing the new. Open resistance is rare, but although it is hidden, it doesn’t mean that the results are not visible and it goes away naturally.


  1. Consider resistance a part of your planning.

An important element of change management plan influencing the resistance is engaging employees and made them part of that plan. In many cases the resistance is prevented or the strength is significantly lowered.

Resistance should not only be considered at early stage of the project. At the beginning resistance may be caused by losing the old, then in so called neutral zone by the lack of new, expected competencies, to later on be caused by some gaps between expectations and reality at the start of the new.

Remember also that the change happens one person at the time and everybody has its own pace.


  1. Discover the cause.

As mentioned before at every stage of the process the cause may be different (and usually is). Once you commit that resistance is unavoidable you need to define not how the result of the resistance will disturb you to find out workaround but what is the cause of this actions in order to minimize the impact.

Example: resistance may be caused by not understanding why the change is made in the first place.

Yes, I refer once again to my previous statement that the change starts with appealing response to the question WHY THE CHANGE HAPPENS. This should lead to planning an information campaign.


  1. Involve responsible managers.

One of my friends has told me one day, that he is a manager – he doesn’t have to work as he is paid to be responsible. Well, I didn’t mean this kind of definition of manager as we don’t need a scapegoat to be blamed for failure.

What I mean is that once the root cause of resistance is discovered there is an action to do and this action lies in the range of responsibility of certain group of managers. If you want the change to be successful – involve them at early stage. You will benefit from extra ambassadors for the change and the whole change will be more consistent as people will notice that their needs are looked after and the whole organization is actually prepared and supportive. These managers are also naturally closer to the impacted employees – therefore there is also higher level of trust.

All 4 steps will definitely help you to get through difficulty of resistance but this is not meant to be a receipt for change implementation.

This is also my point of view on how to mitigate the resistance and I will be extremely glad to hear your experience in this area both showing that abovementioned schemed has worked as well as adding extra bits to get even better results.


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