The winners respond to resistance as an
inevitable part of the change process that must be expected and
managed. They do not try to avoid it, nor do they view resistance
as someone's failure.
Target's emotional responses to change fall
into predictable patterns of resistance. These patterns differ as
a function of the targets' initial perceptions of the change:
positive or negative.
A positive response to the change may go through five phases:
1. Uninformed optimism.
2. Informed pessimism (during which people may check out of
the process or buy-in).
3. Light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Informed optimism.
The five phases predict the targets resistance
to a change they originally perceived as positive.
A negative response to the change may go
through eight phases. The eight phases predict resistance to a
change that is initially perceived as negative by the targets. In
such cases, they feel they are trapped in a change they don't want
and can't control. The eight phases are: (1) Stability (that
precedes the announcement of the change project), (2)
immobilization, (3) denial, (4) anger, (5)
bargaining, (6) depression, (7) testing, and
(8) acceptance. (These eight phases are adapted from Elisabeth
Kubler-Ross's clinical work with the terminally ill.)
The winners recognize the level of commitment
and communication that is required from various key people for
the change to succeed. The issue is not whether there is or is not
commitment: there is always commitment in some form. The issue is
the direction that the commitment takes.
Commitment is often taken for granted. Managers
fail to appreciate that commitment is built by careful planning
and executive. The first step in building commitment is to decide
what level of commitment is required of sponsors, agents, and
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