When Rod Willis researched why people resist change he found that in the majority of cases, leaders and managers don’t possess the necessary understanding of human psychology to effectively deal with the typical symptoms. He concluded that most managers operate at a capability level and fail to engage at a deeper level. This means that they consider what their team members are capable of doing and how they do it as a function of their skills, rather than considering why they do what they do and what they believe about themselves.
The majority of the resistance to change symptoms which Willis identified were a result of people’s values and beliefs, sense of identify and personal purpose not being met. People do not leave their emotions, doubt, fear or lack of trust at home. They bring them to work where they may be perceived as resistance. Willis concluded that there is a direct correlation between a manager’s ability to work at a deeper psychological level and bringing about successful change. It is when managers and leaders focus on building trust and removing doubt and fear that resistance disappears. It is not enough to simply communicate more. Overcoming resistance to change is about understanding people’s psychology.
So the question is how good you are at communicating the impact of change and at addressing peoples’ underlying fears and uncertainties. Is your project at risk of failing due to your lack of attention to human psychology? Your focus should be to listen intently to people’s hopes and desires and to understand the things that matter to them. If you understand how to do that well, not only will you get people’s buy-in, you will also get a loyal and inspired team.
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