Learn How to Deal with Resistance to Change

There is much talk and writing these days about resistance to change. This is an important topic in an age of fast0moving markets and technologies. However, the problem has not been analyzed correctly in many discussions.

The real pitfalls lie not in inability to master the technical aspects of new processes, nor in some inherent unwillingness to change one’s ways of doing things. Rather the pitfall lies in the field of human relations, especially in the manager’s relationships with the subordinates, his colleagues, and his boss. The more skillfully and sensitively he can handle these relationships, the more successfully he can manage change in his organization.

Some of the most effective ways of coping with apparent resistance to change are:

  • Accepting the men’s feelings as natural and human (this is helpful when for instance the resistance is to you as a new boss with a new pattern, and comes from people who are loyal to the old boss and his ways).
  • Looking to see if worker relationships on the job are being disturbed (helpful when a technical change upsets the way the operators on the job have been working with each other).
  • Being realistic about the time needed to make a change-over. (Helpful when new skills and work patterns must be learned).
  • Maintaining wide open lines of communication (especially important in keeping individuals and groups from getting too specialized and out of phase with he rest of the department).
  • Practicing a give and take attitude (helpful when the operator whose job is being changed has strong feelings of his own about what needs to be done).
  • Keeping the staff experts flexible in their views (helpful when the operators are irritated over too much interference by the specialists).
  • Developing increased self awareness (helpful when the man asked to change see the inconsistency between his actual behavior and the behavior he wants to achieve).

Make it a point, first, to understand the man’s concept or image of himself. If he’s a good manager in spirit, then you can help him by tactfully indicating that by doing this or that he’s not really meeting the standards of the new system. Don’t expect to accomplish much in one conversation, of course; you will probably have to work on him for some time.

But when you succeed you cannot only show better departmental results top your boss, but also you will have a happier, better adjusted supervisor working under you. One of the principle conditions of emotional health, psychiatrists report, is the feeling that we are developing in the general ways that are important to us.

Author: KPO

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