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Change Resistance
Part 4 of 5

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In evaluating the various the techniques for overcoming resistance to change, there are six items that commonly appear as keys to successful change. Each will be addressed from the perspective of management and workers. They are

• communication
• vision and clarity
• analysis and anticipation
• participation and involvement
• trust
• support and empathy.


Open, honest communication is a fundamental requirement for suc­cessful change. Management is responsible for making sure that ap­propriate communication mechanisms are in place and used during the course of a change initiative. They need to examine current communi­cation methods for effectiveness and appropriateness. For example, the common practice of using e-mail and memos might be viewed by workers as being too impersonal for situations involving major change. Managers need to be visible and accessible as change progresses. The main thing for managers to remember in relation to communication is JUST DO IT—frequently, openly, honestly, and personally. Let others know that progress is being made. Also, communication is a two-way process that involves listening as well as speaking or writing. Workers respond much more enthusiastically if they understand what's happen­ing and feel like they have an opportunity to provide their input. Work­ers have a responsibility to communicate among themselves, to their supervisors, and to higher-level managers. They need to avoid the ten­dency to sit back, complain, and view themselves as victims and to become active participants in the communication process. Managers can deal with workers' concerns only if they know what they are.

Vision and Clarity

It is fundamentally important for everyone to understand why change is being proposed in the first place. How will we be more competitive? What are the expected benefits and costs? What is the time frame? How committed is the organization to successful implementation of this change? What will happen in each affected area? It is entirely management's responsibility to have a vision, clarify the vision, and communicate and continually reinforce the vision to everyone involved. Managers must be leaders in the change process and vision is the first step in leadership. Workers will make better decisions regarding their role and effort if they know the vision and understand it. If they are not clear about the vision, workers need to continue to press for clarity through the communication process.

Analysis and Anticipation

Once change is proposed, participants enter a stage of analysis and anticipation. Management's responsibility is to analyze the broad im­pact of proposed change and develop a plan of action that will lead to a successful conclusion. In the planning process managers need to an­ticipate potential problems and try to solve them before they material­ize. Managers also need to take the opportunity to communicate with each other and with workers to avoid unnecessary, nonproductive ac­tivity. Workers also have a responsibility to analyze and anticipate. Once they understand the vision and need for change, they need to look at how, specifically, it will impact them and the rest of the organi­zation by asking: What's in it for me? What's in it for them? What's in it for us?
As workers analyze the impact of change, important discoveries need to be fed back through communication channels.

To Be Continued


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