People don’t like to change. In fact they react badly and sometimes destructively when forced to change. Statistics tell us that 70% of change strategies within organizations fail to provide the desired outcome and often cause a great deal of discontent. It is interesting to note that this also applies to large scale organizations, such as the entire population of Australia. The population of Australia has NEVER passed a referendum to change the constitution, no matter how minor the proposed change has been. So the resistance to change pervades entire societies. What chance do you think that you can get your organization to accept change?

So what do we do about that when it is sometimes critical for an organization to change in order to survive? This may be an entire culture change or a procedural change, but if you don’t get the correct methodology in place you will fail.

There is a great deal of complex psychology behind why people behave this way and resist anything they are uncomfortable with. It is perhaps more of an issue now when the world seems to be changing so rapidly that few people feel any sense of security. The development of a change program, the extent of the change, your relationship with your people and HOW you explain the requirement for change, will all impact on the response and effectiveness of your change plan and management procedures.

A key determinant in the success profile is how well you understand the values and beliefs of each individual, and the organization as a whole. If you don’t have a clear understanding of these elements, don’t even think about trying to introduce a major change. You MUST understand how the organization and individual values either conflict or support each other and HOW you can make the two congruent. This is not the realm of a Project Manager since it is not a simple planning process by any means. The larger the organization, the more complex the management scheme must be.

A second key determinant is the skill with which the requirement for change is communicated. A hastily prepared email or letter to staff and management is probably more likely to cause conflict than solve the problem. People in an organization are first individuals and second a member of a group. That group is more than likely also broken down into sub-groups or cliques, each with its own natural values system. These must all be understood and in some cases unique communications methods for each group must be prepared so that the language and imagery provided to each group is perceived unconsciously as congruent with their values system.

Change in an organization is often seen as a management negative, introducing changes that will negatively impact groups or individuals. As a manager it is essential to try to let this negative perception by having an external specialist do a complete and confidential evaluation of the guaranteed resistance points in the organization (and there will be many). And when I say “confidential” I mean that members of your company or organization must feel their privacy is protected from management. Hence the need for external resources to undertake that part of the change project.

The good news is that we know how to do it, and enhance productivity at the same time!

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