4 Techniques to Overcome Resistance to Change

In W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points for Management (Out of the Crisis), principle #8 to transform a business is “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.” wHolistic ChangeSM attempts to drive out fear by performing all of the tactical activities we have included in our approach. However, despite the best intentions, you will still encounter resistance to change.

These are the 4 techniques we use to overcome resistance to change:

  1. Keep the change itself simple and easy to adopt.
    • If the change is viewed as too onerous, or as taking too long to see results, it will not be successful. People will give up before they truly give the change a chance.
  2. Ensure peoples’ incentives are tied to the change.
    • If there is a disconnect, people will focus on how their bonuses are decided (even if they recognize the change is the right thing to do).
  3. Involve middle managers throughout the change planning process.
    • Middle management will determine if behavior change will actually happen: they manage the front line employees, set work priorities, and are ultimately responsible for the relationships with your customers.
    • Middle managers are also responsible for the training and development of their front line employees, and are looked to as mentors when their employees ask questions about how to handle a particular situation.
    • If middle managers do not see the value of the change, or if they view it as a nuisance and disruption to their business operations, the change will fail.
  4. Recognize that resistance to change is normal. Ensure that you have built the support structure your organization needs to adopt the change, and be ready to act as coach and cheerleader to guide your resources through it.
    • Depending on the nature of the change, the support structure may require templates, samples, job aids, and/or training materials to set your resources up for successful adoption of the change.
    • In terms of helping the change team act as champions throughout the process, see my previous blog post about handling resistance to change.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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