Change is essential and inevitable for all organisations, but some people are better at coping with it than others. Dana Brownlee is the founder of Professionalism Matters, a national corporate consulting company that trains groups to boost team productivity in the workplace. She identifies six types of change resisters that we must battle in order to move forward with our important initiatives.
The “Positive” Change Resister
In group settings they seem positive, but often make passive aggressive comments that are really thinly veiled jabs (I’m sure the new shipping process makes complete sense and I’m fully onboard, but I’m just wondering what we should say if customers complain about longer wait times?) To minimize their impact: during a group session, ask each person to write their top concern about the change on an index card and ask everyone to pass them to the front of the room for review and discussion. The key is to encourage those who might complain outside the session to instead voice their concerns in a more constructive fashion.
The “Unique” Change Resister
This is the person who feels that their situation is different. For some reason, they’re special and shouldn’t change along with everyone else. To minimize their impact: clearly explain how the change impacts everyone and can benefit anyone. Also, emphasise the importance of everyone’s participation. (Although some of you may use the system more than others, it will be critical to have 100% compliance. If everyone does not participate, it will be unwieldy and confusing).
The “Let Me Be Last” Change Resister
This person is the procrastinating resister. They’re dipping their toe in the water, watching everyone else jump in and hoping to go last. They may in fact be quite vocal that they’re only going to change kicking and screaming. To minimize their impact: set clear deadlines for change acceptance. If possible, have everyone “take the leap” at once and make the change into a positive celebration.
The “We Need More Time to Study” Change Resister
This person gets caught in analysis paralysis. They don’t want to make a change until they’ve analysed every possible scenario and option. To minimize their impact: clarify that the goal is “directionally correct” but not “perfect”. Establish a limited time for study/data gathering, and then take decisive action.
The “Cost Justifier” Change Resister
This resister is focused on the cost justification or ROI for the change. They’re paying attention to the dollars and the cents and feel that if it doesn’t add up, change shouldn’t happen. To minimize their impact: clarify the reasons for the change early on. If the rationale is non-monetary, be very upfront about that (Our focus this year is on improving customer service. As a result, we’re upgrading our vendors and those changes will certainly increase costs, but the anticipated long term benefits are worth the short term costs in our estimation).
The “Incremental Change” Resister
This person won’t commit to the full change, but they’ll make incremental steps toward change. They may not use the new online system for processing their invoices, but they’ll at least sign up for a login and password (and hope the system goes away before full implementation is mandated). To minimize their impact: clarify the expectations for making the full change very early on. Eliminate any ambiguity about expectations. Instead of saying “Staff will be expected to familiarise themselves with the online request system by 1Q 2013″ say “All requests must be initiated through the online request system effective 2/1/13.”
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