Handling Resistance

Handling Resistance

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Handling resistance and fear is the fifth step in the Kotter model. This is handling resistanceabout empowering action, over coming resistance and getting rid of obstacles to change. This post is  part of a series on the Kotter approach to leading change. I am in process of revamping my original Kotter model series. Links to all the earlier Kotter posts are in the next paragraph.

The Kotter model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organisation or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. We have already reissued; Step One: Creating Urgency Step Two: Forming a Powerful CoalitionStep Three Creating a Vision for Change and Step Four: Communicate Your Vision

Now we are reaching the point where your investment in Stages 1 to 4, begins to pay dividends. Kotter himself states that when Stages 1 to 4 are skipped, resistance is inevitable and this can destroy your change.

People resist change because they fear loss.

They believe they are defending something they value which feels threatened.   This can include loss of security, power, resources and overall loss of control.  Most of us fear the unknown.

If you have followed the earlier Kotter steps when you reach this point, you will have been talking about your vision and building up buy-in from all levels of the organisation. Hopefully, your group will want to get busy and be out there achieving the benefits that you’ve been promoting.

But there may still be some resisting the change!  There may be people (individuals or groups), processes, structures and even organisations that are getting in the way? You not only need to put in place the structure for change, but check continually for barriers and blockers to it.

Handling resistance and removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision and it certainly helps them move the change forward.

Handling resistance! To remove obstacles you should;

  • Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organisational structure, job descriptions and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognise and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify people who are resisting the change and help them see what’s needed.
  • Take action quickly to remove barriers (human or otherwise).

When people are resistant;

  • Help them understand the logic behind the change.
  • Give them an opportunity to contribute – to help design and implement the change (e.g., ideas, task forces, committees).
  • Provide facilitation & coaching to help them adjust to the change.
  • Offer incentives to those who continue to resist change.

If all else fails, and this change is critical to the organisation, you may need to use authority to get people to accept the change or move them sideways and, sometimes, even out of the organisation. Do it with as much respect for their dignity as possible – those remaining will be marked by how your respond .

This can be one of the most challenging stages for the Change Leader but – as I’ve written here many times before – no one told you change was going to be easy!

Meanwhile …

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leading Change and the virtue of patience

Image of the glassharmonica, invented by Benja...
The glassharmonica invented by Benjamin Franklin
 “He that can have patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin courtesy of Wally Bock  (who liked the earlier version of this). 
 

As some will know, I’ve been working my way through Kotter’s eight steps in change leadership again recently. Step Six is to create short-term wins.

Most of the post below was written a little time ago.  It was so well received that is doesn’t make sense to change it entirely but I have added a couple of further thoughts. 

Nothing motivates and gives people confidence more than success. Give your company and your team a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you’ll want to have results that your top team and staff can see. Without this, critics, negative thinkers and cynics might hurt your progress.

Big bang changes are fraught with risk and danger; so it makes sense, if you can, to break your change down into manageable modules.  This gives you the opportunity to create short-term targets.  These then build up to your overall long-term goal rather than having just one long-term event. It means you get early benefits.

You want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure, particularly the early ones. Your change team may have to work very hard to come up with these targets, but each “win” that you produce can further motivate and inspire the entire organization. Your early wins inpire confidence so that people are prepared to stay with you for the rest of the journey.

What you can do:

  • Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement relatively quickly and without help from any strong critics of the change.
  • Don’t choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.
  • Choose achievements with tangible results that are easily understood and, if possible, bring benefits to many
  • Thoroughly analyze the potential pros and cons of your targets and make sure you really understand what is required. If you don’t succeed with an early goal, it can hurt your entire change initiative.
  • Reward the people who help you meet the targets.
  • Publicize what you have done – get out there and wave your flags

I’d welcome your thoughts on this and if you would like help in leading or managing your change, please get in touch.

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 

Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance

Recently I’ve been writing about John Kotter’s eight stage process for leading and managing change.  Stage 5 is about empowering action, over coming resistance and getting rid of obstacles to change.

This is where your investment in Stages 1 to 4, begins to pay dividends.

Kotter himself states that when Stages 1 to 4 are skipped, resistance is inevitable and this can destroy your change.

People resist change because they fear loss.  They believe they are defending something they value which feels threatened.   This can include loss of security, power, resources and overall loss of control.  Most of us fear the unknown.

If you have followed the earlier Kotter steps when you reach this point, you will have been talking about your vision and building up buy-in from all levels of the organization. Hopefully, your group will want to get busy and be out there achieving the benefits that you’ve been promoting.

But there may still be some resisting the change!  There may be people (individuals or groups), processes, structures and even organizations that are getting in the way?

You not only need to put in place the structure for change, but check continually for barriers and blockers to it.

Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision and it certainly helps them move the change move forward.

To remove obstacles you should

  • Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organizational structure, job descriptions and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognize and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify people who are resisting the change and help them see what’s needed.
  • Take action quickly to remove barriers (human or otherwise).

To remove barriers of the human kind

  • Help them understand the logic behind the change.
  • Give them an opportunity to contribute – to help design and implement the change (e.g., ideas, task forces, committees).
  • Provide facilitation & coaching to help them adjust to the change.
  • Offer incentives to those who continue to resist change.

If all else fails, and this change is critical to the organization, use authority to get people to accept the change or to move sideways and, possibly, out.

This can be one of the most challenging stages for the Change Leader but – as I’ve written here many times before – no one told you change was going to be easy!

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there! (wisewolftalking.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439