Where do your change resisters come from?

They slow things down. They stir the pot. They wear you down. They pull your attention away from what’s important. The distractions they create cause opportunities to slip by. And, just like ducks in a shooting gallery, when you finally get rid of one, another seems to pop up to take his or place. You screen applicants, have well-defined systems, and believe you’re a decent leader. So how the heck do these change resisters keep finding their way into your company?

Change resisters are a product of the environment they work in. Allow that statement to sink in. As the leader, you create and are responsible for maintaining a work environment that supports your company vision, purpose and values. Your level of leadership experience doesn’t matter because nurturing your company’s work environment is a never-ending process.

Here are five no-compromise strategies to address change resisters and keep them from popping up in your company:

  1. All the personalities and behaviors: Clearly, some individuals have personalities and behaviors that are just difficult to work with. But the “difficult” part has more do with your abilities to communicate and interact with certain personalities and behaviors. You may find it challenging to interact with people who are aggressive or even passive-aggressive. Therefore, you limit your exposure to such individuals. As a result, you label them change resisters. As a leader, you need to develop the skills to interact effectively with all sorts of individuals. You need to communicate in ways both parties can listen to – and really hear.
  2. The one question most often asked by leaders: “How many times do I have to tell them?” I bet you ask yourself that question almost daily. When expectations are poorly defined, when the “task” is missing the “why,” when the follow-up and accountability is weak, you’re creating the perfect environment for change resisters to surface and grow. If you think you’re communicating enough, if you think your information flow systems are up to the task, think again. If change resisters are present in your company, it’s time to build extreme clarity into your communications and ratchet up the flow of information throughout your company.
  3. The consequences of tolerating change resisters: As soon as the “can’t live with them – can’t live without them” justification surfaces, you are officially compromising the integrity of your company’s work environment and its ability to function as a team. Any toleration immediately creates a double standard where the resisters are “enabled” to perform, behave or assume privileges that other do not. Everyone sees it. Everyone feels the unfairness. Everyone knows that you, the leader, are allowing this to continue. It’s time to get the change resisters you created on the bus or drop them off at the next corner.
  4. Take ownership in the situation: It’s not “them” or someone else’s fault. It’s not a plot by your competitors to plant change resisters in your company to wreak havoc. It’s simply a situation you created. So take a deep breath and own it, because once you own it, you’ve removed the biggest obstacle – you.
  5. Change is constant – at least it should be: A simple and potent strategy to prevent change resisters from popping up is to continually adapt and change your company. Change keeps things fresh. Change keeps people awake. Change can be exciting or just a necessary adjustment to remain competitive. No matter what, change avoids stagnation and boredom. Once the routine sets in, people get comfortable. And when they’re comfortable for too long, change resisters get more set in their ways.

Every company has change resisters. It’s what you do to help them get off the fence that matters.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


1 Response to “Where do your change resisters come from?”

  1. June 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

    To pick up on last week’s thread: once the chief change-resister in our organization was identified and removed from the bus, others become change agents. They didn’t just respond to change. Rather, they embraced and created it. They felt freed to contribute ideas that constituted positive change. They owned the change and relished the opportunity to be accountable for it. By selling my leadership responsibility short, I sold my people and my company short. Lesson learned.

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