Resisting Change

In order to grow, we must change. It just would be nice if it weren’t so hard. The good news is that the more you practice changing, the easier it becomes.

Gone are the days of having one job for your entire life. Most of us will change jobs several times. Some of us may have to learn new skills to get new jobs in new fields.

When I first entered the workforce, my mother gave me some very good advice. She said your few couple of months on a job are learning months. You aren’t really going to produce anything for a while. You have to learn what needs to be done, what’s already being done and how things get done. A lot of this on the job learning is done by trial and error.

On top of the actual work, you also have to learn to navigate the culture of the organization you are now working for and how to deal with all the new quirky personalities. To be productive you have to not step on toes and understand who really makes decisions in an office.

If you are a leader or a manager, you have a doubly hard task. You have to learn all of this so you can please your new boss AND figure out how to get work out of the people you are tasked with managing without having them all quit on you out of frustration that you are an idiot who clearly has no respect for how things have always been done!

Change is hard. It’s hard for you and it’s hard for the people you are tasked with changing.  It doesn’t matter if the change will make things easier for everyone, your staff will resist it. They can’t help it. It’s what we humans do when confronted with change. We stick our heads in the sand and hope the impulse and annoying person with crazy new ideas doesn’t last long.

The mistake managers make is that they ask for change and then judge the results by whether or not staff changed. That’s so not how change management works. Instead of blaming staff for failing to change, why not consider the idea that you, as the manager are at fault.

Change is a process that takes place over time. The larger the group you are trying to change and the more ways that group interacts with other groups, the harder it will be to change. It’s like trying to turn a cruise ship.  You can’t just cut the engines and turn left. You have to plan out in advance where you want to go, where to apply pressure and start the process and keep on the process and keep on it reapplying pressure where the group needs it until – change occurs.

If you want to learn more about the behavioral science of change, both in individuals and in groups, take the Why is Change so Hard ecourse (this is a certified 1 hour online program for continuing education credits (for HR, ASTD, and coaches).

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