Tag Archive for: Change

Change; How to deal with its Resistance


Cui Bono — Who Benefits?

Asking “who benefits” is the best way to understand what appears to be strange behavior, which becomes your key to addressing resistance to innovation and change. Those responsible for specific actions are most likely to gain from them.

China’s waning zero-COVID policy is a classic example. Overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that high-quality vaccines plus natural immunity while protecting the most vulnerable is the most viable path to harmonizing safety and well-being.

China has access to this information, so why the persistent zero-COVID policy that has damaged the Chinese economy, undermined their citizens’ well-being and disrupted global supply chains?

Who benefits, and what makes them better off? Xi Jinping. Zero-COVID allowed him to create the world’s most sophisticated police state through smartphone apps that track every aspect of people’s lives. Concurrently, he used the crisis to complete his seizure of power, eliminate rivals, and get himself installed as dictator for life. With those objectives secured, he’s using the ongoing protests to pivot from zero-COVID.

Change: How do I apply it?

Asking who benefits and what makes them better off helps you uncover why people resist change and to address it.

“That’s not how we’ve always done it” signals resistance to a new process or idea. People want to avoid leaving their comfort zones, especially if the status quo seems beneficial.

Loud complaining, gaslighting, and sabotage escalate the resistance. Strong-willed people will do their best to make you uncomfortable promoting the change; flying off the handle and creating a groundswell of opposition is their way of convincing you to leave them alone. You undermine your credibility and increase your costs when you tolerate this behavior.

Slow-rolling is the tactic of stalling and hoping the boss either goes away or kills the new idea. Slow-rollers cite the obstacles they are encountering, complain about inadequate resources even when they have enough, and cite higher priorities that require their attention.

The most insidious involves telling the boss what they want to hear while continuing to do what you want. Graduate-level resistance makes you look foolish because everyone thinks you believe the smokescreen.

Most people practicing these tactics are not evil actors. They get comfortable with routines because they use less mental and emotional energy when performing tasks they know well. They may honestly believe that the status quo is the better path. Sometimes that’s the case, but knee-jerk resistance to innovation is a fast track to failure. Familiarity leads to inertia, inertia creates resistance to change, and unwillingness to innovate generates complacency. You can only drift in one direction — downhill. Ask Sears, ToysRUs, and FTX.

There’s a myth about the military that you can order someone to do something, no matter how ridiculous, and they’ll do it. I encountered these forms of resistance on active duty and had to get good at addressing them.

Buy-in is the shortest path to success, and people buy in when they believe they are better off doing so. You need self-interest on your side.

People change their behavior based on three factors: fear that they’ll suffer adverse consequences, interest: they decide that they are better off by changing, or honor: that continued resistance to change will harm others. Historians will recognize these three powerful motives from Thucydides.

Successful leaders find the right levers to pull.

You’re back on track with:

  • Jim, I’ve heard your point of view and given you why I believe innovation is vital to our success. Here are three steps I need you to take to implement the decision. What additional resources or guidance do you need?
  • Susan, I’m considering a new initiative. May I get your views on how this makes you and your team better off and what downsides we need to address?
  • Tony, I know you prefer to continue using the process that you developed. The problem is that no one else uses it, and the company would have to suck down the costs of allowing everyone to do their own thing. Standardizing our processes saves us $ 2 million annually, which we can apply to bonuses and investments in people.   


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The discussion starts at 3:30 pm US Central on December 15. I’ll provide 30 minutes of actionable content followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.

Reply to this email for the calendar invitation, or create your own and dial in with this zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/2829958553.

Please share this opportunity with two or three others who would benefit from the discussion.


How to Continue to Innovate and Combat Change Fatigue 2022

Leadership can make all the difference when it comes to workplace change

Chances are, if you feel like your organization is saturated with change, your Team may be experiencing change fatigue.

Change fatigue is a Team’s resistance, passive resignation, apathy, or feelings of being overwhelming when it comes to organizational change.

We’ve all been there; change fatigue sets in and our Team gets resentful. I’ve seen it in every line of work. Leadership, however, can make all the difference when it comes to workplace change.

Identifying change fatigue is the first step a leader needs to take.

What does change fatigue look like? Complaints increase in frequency, exhaustion, loss of passion, stress, more sick days, cynicism, and lack of trust in leadership. This impacts the organization on so many levels–less productivity, greater turnover, and more missed days. The culture tanks and trust erodes.

According to a recent HBR article, “too often, organizations simply encourage their employees to be resilient, placing the burden of finding ways to feel better solely on individuals. Leaders need to recognize that change exhaustion is not an individual issue, but a collective one that needs to be addressed at the team and organizational level.”

Action Steps to mitigate change fatigue:

  • Control what you can control: Fear and discontent crop up when we feel like we have lost control of our current situation. When changes in our workplace occur, we need to encourage our Team to highlight what is within their control and influence. Instead of thinking of change as something happening to you, think of it as you having control over your new learning and this new growth opportunity. Perspective can make a huge difference when change occurs. The Center for Creative Leadership’s David Altman describes change as continual evolution with no endpoint. He goes on to say that we need to think of “change fatigue” as “change energy.”
  • Communicate early and often: Bring key stakeholders to the table to discuss upcoming changes and ask for their perspectives and advice. Roll out the change in small, digestible bites. Acknowledge that what you thought was “best” isn’t anymore.  Offer validation to the prior initiative and explain the “why” with the new one. There isn’t a “best” in business anyways; we should always be learning and growing. The moment a company settles, they have already slid behind the competition.
  • Trust: Change cannot occur until your Team trusts their leadership and understands the “why” behind the change. That’s the first move. Once the change is in action, give brief surveys and check in often. Be sure toprioritize the changes. Ask your Team to collectively decide which one is the most important and focus on that one. They will have more buy-in if they can help make decisions. Allow for errors. Mistakes will happen. Your team needs to know that you have their back and they are allowed to experiment and make mistakes. Before implementing any change, make sure that your Team has all the resources needed; this includes training, time, and material resources.
  • Team-focused: Collective routines have a way of calming your Team as they forge into the unknown. This could be morning coffee, happy hours, consistent meeting times, etc. Routines cultivate a sense of community and foster a sense of organizational buy-in.

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