Fear of Loss of Group Membership is More Powerful Than Management

change in teams using the outcast www.create-learning.com

Resistance to Change and Learning Anxiety

Working as a change agent you must think about creating psychological safety for people and their peer groups to change. The fear of being seen as an outcast or deviant is enough to halt the best change efforts.

 3 Ideas for working with team change

Involve the team

Bringing the team together and involving them in the change. You involve the team by going to them early and sharing the needed change…asking for their help and input then actually using their ideas.

  • ExampleI did this with a team of Machinists. The company hired me for change and team consulting. We called the team together, “Your numbers are dropping to x and they need to be at y. What do you think we can do to increase the numbers to y?” There was fussing and complaining, we listened wrote their ideas of flip charts and kept asking. After 45 minutes we had 4 actionable ideas that came from the team. We met again shared their ideas and created changes to how the work gets done, plus the performance appraisal and reinforcement system, numbers went up in two weeks.

Informal training of teams and groups

Application and development outside the classroom and structured training time. People and teams test the change on their own and find what works. Management must be OK with the team changing the steps, as long as the change goal is met you cannot micromanage the process.

  • Example – Working with a large Coffee and Bake Shop franchise headquarters wanting the district managers to use Coaching & Feedback as opposed to authority and demands with the franchise owners. The district managers operated under a control and command system and asking them to switch to coaching & feedback was met with great resistance. We created a series of coaching & feedback job aids and tools and created small step task assignments for the managers to test out informally. In management meetings we asked for what worked and what needed to be changed. The ‘informality’ allowed people to test and try-it… many managers were sharing their own questions and techniques that worked.

Sharing Progress and Reinforcing Small Steps

People resist change because they think that no-one is doing it…this is reinforced by peer groups creating confirmation bias. They only talk to those who are resisting the change, therefore all they hear about is the resistance and none of the acceptance, leading them to believe everyone is resisting the change. 

  • ExampleConsulting a finance team from a mining company we had to figure out a way to get the budget reports to the finance team on-time so accurate profit and loss + budgets could be shared and allocated to operations. For years the team emailed and bugged people, sharing data on who was NOT getting the budget reports to finance. This created the belief that many people were late therefore it was OK. We changed the reporting structure to show the number of people who got their budget reports in on time and posted public reports ( by the hour at first then eventually monthly ) to show who is getting things in on time and how that is reflecting the allocation of $$ to their projects. This change in reporting increased their on-time budget reports from 45% to 96% in three months.

Fear of loss of group membership is more powerful than management. Resistance to change is an opportunity to find cooperation and ways to leverage the group to find what works and do more of it.


What do you think?

How does the need to belong to a group affect change in your company? What have you found that works?

Team Building Leadership Innovation expert Michael Cardus

michael cardus is create-learning

Link to original post

Leave a Reply