The last few years have included a huge number of unexpected changes that have fundamentally changed the way we work, live, and socialize. It was exhilarating for some but frightening and uncomfortable for most people. Why?
According to Isabel Briggs Meyers, the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator developer, only 5.5% of humans innately embrace change. The rest find it really hard to cope with change for one reason: Change challenges a biological need to look for patterns and certainty, and the absence of these can trigger anxiety and build resistance.
Resistance to change can happen in individuals, relationships, or within organizations, and fear of the unknown is at the core of it. In the workplace, it manifests in many forms, such as sarcastic remarks, criticism, or, in the worst case, sabotage.
According to research, getting a negative response to anything that falls out of the ordinary is natural. But what if you could get some tools and learn strategies to go through change without any emotional fatigue?
In this article, we will go over the common things that create resistance to change and analyze the change curve to understand the process an individual goes through before accepting any big change in their lives.
What Causes Resistance to Change
Facing an onslaught of daily changes is challenging for anybody, but it’s on managers to help people go through change successfully. The good news is that there are different ways to address resistance to change and get it under control.
The first step is to understand the causes so you can solve the issue effectively and implement a strategy for similar future scenarios. There are five common reasons for resistance to change.
1. Lack of Trust
Does your team trust you and your leadership team? People tend to react to their leadership team more than the change itself. So earning your employees' trust will make it easier for you when a significant change happens in the organization. Otherwise, distrust will exacerbate resistance to change and increase the turnover rates. Distrust may occur if the company makes changes too often, doesn't deliver what it's promised, or employees don't feel valued. And what successful companies have in common is the trust of their employees.
2. Poor Communication
Do you effectively communicate with your team? We all know that effective communication is one of the most important leadership skills any manager needs to develop. Sharing information whenever possible, especially when the organization is going through changes, will create a culture of transparency. When there’s no open communication between team members and the leadership team, people lose trust in their managers and resist changes in the company.
3. Emotional response
Are you properly addressing emotional responses from your team? As humans, we have emotional reactions to change, such as fear, anxiety, worry, and uncertainty. People may not feel comfortable sharing those with their leadership team, but managers still need to address those feelings, otherwise, they can turn into negative comments and sabotage any efforts to build trust among employees.
4. Fear of failure
Do you give your team room to fail? Implementing change in an organization may have a good or bad outcome, so fear of failing is common. Fearing their job security is at risk or their performance review will be impacted makes it hard for people to focus on their jobs, which can have real consequences in the results. But when you let your team learn from mistakes, they can bounce back quickly and get back on track.
5. Constant change
We’ve all heard the saying, “the only constant is change,” but when it comes to businesses, it’s better to space changes out. Every time you introduce a change in your organization, you must ensure everybody is fully adapted before proposing new changes. That also gives you the time to analyze and prove what works and what doesn’t. In addition, a study also suggests that people who went through changes very often showed signs of stress and had less trust in their senior leaders, planned to find new jobs, and reported more health concerns.
Kübler-Ross DREC Model
Changes in your business strategy are inevitable, especially in unprecedented times. Your communication skills might not be enough to get everyone on board. So how can you help your team face change?
Most organizations focus on systems and processes, assuming people will follow behind and jump aboard. But this isn't always the case. The truth is that people's reactions to change could differ according to severity, sense of personal control and involvement, cultural expectations, and environmental conditions.
At Girard Training Solutions, we use the Kübler-Ross DREC Model to help managers understand the process an individual goes through before accepting any significant change in their lives. This four-stage model allows you to develop an action plan for each step and take the business to complete a successful transformation.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed a model in the 1960s to explain the grieving process and then proposed that it could also apply to any dramatic life-changing situation. That's the one we call the Change Curve, which is a method to help people understand their reactions to significant change.
Today, the model is popularly referred to as the DREC cycle for the four stages people go through in their own personal transition. Once you understand the process individuals experience before accepting big changes, you can develop an action plan for each phase and do what it takes to complete a successful transformation.
Stage 1: Denial
People deny change will happen because they don't know or don't like how the change will impact them. It's important to explain why the change must be introduced and ensure everybody receives the same message.
Stage 2: Resistance
People start to create arguments and barriers to the introduction of the change. They don't believe the change will work and don't trust the leadership. Listen to their ideas and make adjustments to the plan when you can.
Stage 3: Exploration
People will start looking for their roles in the new system. They appreciate the potential benefits of the change and understand the new opportunities and options. It's during this stage that training makes sense.
Stage 4: Commitment
The new system becomes "the way we do things around here," and new behaviors are rooted in the organization's culture. People show positive energy, recognize the benefits, and enjoy the challenge.
It's a fact that people experience change in different ways. Some may be more open to it and adapt quickly, but others can create some resistance to the point they may delay any changes you want to implement in your organization.
Understanding the emotional response change causes in people and learning how to introduce it to your team members will make a difference in the results you get for the new protocols, technologies, or strategies you're trying to establish.
The Girard Training Solutions team includes experts in Learning and Development, Management Development, Facilitation, Learning Experience Design, Project Management, and Graphic Design.