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The Secrets To Overcoming Resistance To Change

In my last post, I wrote about the reasons why people within organizations are unwilling to change, but what’s missing from this picture is an understanding of how to overcome their resistance to change.  Changing hearts and minds while implementing a successful transformational change within an organization can be a long journey but with the right knowledge, tools, and insights, it can be done.

Research has shown that most obstacles to transformational change are related to both people and the organization.   For many, the organizational aspects are manageable and predictable, but the “soft stuff” is hard to get right.  Behavioral and cultural changes are crucial to project success and are considerably tougher to address than the so-called “hard” factors, such as structure, performance measures, and incentives.

I wrote about this at length in the whitepaper I authored for Mythos Group, based on my experience helping organizations build and lead strategic global transformations.  While there’s no magic bullet to overcoming resistance to change, I believe there are several underlying principles that if implemented correctly, can greatly increase the chance of success.

Create A Change Vision
A change vision articulates a picture of the future, and why employees should strive to work towards it.  The vision must be compelling enough to generate the excitement and confidence needed to propel them through the chaos of change.

Walk The Walk
Change starts at the top and begins day one.  The behavior of all management must match the words as their cascading influence across all levels of the organization plays a significant role in the success of the transformational change.

Build A Structure
The formal structure of an organization does more than clarify roles and responsibilities.  It must also support the behaviors you are looking to develop and extinguish the behaviors that no longer serve your organization.

Commit To The Cause
Real change happens at the bottom.  That’s why employees must be engaged on an emotional and rational level.  Help employees understand the change and identify what’s in it for them to make the change.

Recognize And Reward
For many employees, changes are scary.  To allay those fears, recognition, and appraisals must be frequent, supportive, and consistent with the vision and values of the organization.  

It takes a lot of time and effort but communication is the single most critical element in keeping an organizational change initiative moving.  Do it well and do it often.

Large scale transformations can and do fail, despite the huge benefits the changes can bring.  That’s often because executives underestimate the significance of changes to their organization’s operating model or they’re unable to overcome internal resistance to change.

Mythos Group’s white paper, Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Change, contains more detail on this and other recommendations, and is available to download for free from Papers.