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Leadership Development Program & Training Courses - Breaking the Code on Effectively Sustaining Change (part 2 of 4)

In our last article on creating sustainable change, we presented a broad overview of the change cycle. We also described the five steps that mark introduction through the eventual adoption of change in the workplace.

Today, let's dig deeper and look specifically at resistance to change or new ideas at a psychological level. Resistance has four degrees of severity.

As we teach in our leadership development program & training courses, resistance is a natural part of the change cycle. Successful leaders understand and prepare resistance from the beginning. This increases the probability of successful through the completion and implementation of any plan/change. Reacting to resistance throughout the change cycle is often less effective.

The Four Levels of Change Resistance

Level One: "I don't understand it."

This is the most common kind of resistance and is the easiest to overcome. Explain vision and rationale for change as clearly and concisely as possible. Answer questions. Provide data. Help your workforce understand how your new ideas will fit into their lives and jobs. Give examples of how it will be superior to the old way. Giving good explanations up-front can prevent resistance from becoming more serious. It can also get people excited about the upcoming change and get people involved in making it happen!

Level Two: "I Understand It…I don't like it."

People may understand a proposed change but they don’t like it! You can usually tell Level Two Resistance from body language as opposed to what they say verbally. Be patient. Listen to what they have to say. Their reasons for disliking the plan could lead you to find ways to refine it, especially if their dislike is rooted in legitimate problems they foresee (or have experienced before). If their dislike is simply reactionary, go back to explanations and focus on how the change will improve their situation.

Level Three: "I Understand It…I don't like YOU!"

Here's where things get problematic. The manager or employee may fully understand what the plan is, but due to personal issues, they're resisting implementation. It's possible, of course, to simply use authority to force compliance, but that tends to create longer-term problems. Find out precisely what it is they have a problem with and deal directly with that issue. It's better to legitimately win back their respect; otherwise you may be fighting this battle over and over. This requires more patience and true seeking to understand. Be ready for candid and challenging feedback. It is a chance for personal and/or professional growth.

Level Four: "I Understand It…I will never trust you again."

This happens when you need to work with someone where there is a damaged relationship. It’s possible it could be too damaged which could affect the team’s ability to being successful. There's no point dwelling on how things got to this level (other than Lessons Learned). Lean on the business case and data. If it’s the right thing to do with expected results that will benefit team members and the organization get support of as many key decision makers as possible. Be ready that sometimes a key person may choose not to participate. Adjust accordingly and ensure any risks are documented in the context of effect on the potential results.

Removing or moving someone to a different position is a worst case possibility (depending on the details of the relationship and potential change being discussed). This can be time-consuming and disruptive and should be avoided whenever possible by better resistance-management up-front.

X-Stream Leadership Group’s leadership development program & training courses bring you superior strategies for implementing real change within your organization, and sustaining it long term! Contact us today to get all the details. If you want to read more about change resistance click here.

X-Stream Leadership Group, LLC   |   1248 Queen Street, Pottstown, PA 19464   |   PH (610) 908-2223   |   FX (610) 705-1892
Regional offices in Longmont, CO – Dallas, TX – Laurel Hill, FL serving clients in the larger Philadelphia, Denver and Dallas areas and World-Wide.