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#986: Help Clients Understand Resistance To Change

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, February 13, 2009
Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009
I believe that both the change consultant and client staff are responsible for messaging about the nature of change and expected resistance to change. What is the best way to advise a client to help his or her own people through change?

A lot has been written about the change process, and the nature of change you specifically introduce will determine how you advise your client. Because the client will probably have more contact and influence with staff than you do, your helping them understand how people see change and how to prepare for it is a good idea.

At its simplest level, there are three aspects of resistance to change that should be addressed. These are rational, emotional and personal. The first is understanding what the change is, how it will be managed and what the effects will be - very left brain. The second is how we react to news of change, how we feel about it during the change, and how it will affect the culture of the organization when complete - very right brain. The third is grounded in trust in organizational leadership and, even if I don't understand the change and don't like it, I may still acept it if I trust the leadership. Change expert Rick Maurer describes these types of resistance to change as "I don't get it," "I don't like it," and "I don't like you."

Tip: Leaders need to attend to all three. Often, when staff resist change for emotional reasons, managers redouble their efforts to explain the rational basis of change. Or, leaders may say, "trust me" and not address either rational or emotional aspects. Part of your charge is to help clients understand each of these types of change resistance and coach them on messaging and behaviors that address all three. Talk through some of the key aspects of resistance with staff and, if needed, prepare talking points for your client to help them stay on message and more effectively deal with resistance.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  change  communication  guidance 

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