Help People Get Ready for Changes

Readiness and Resistance

Every systematic approach to making large-scale change usually talks about these two factors. 

Readiness refers to whether or not the people who will be involved are prepared for the changes that are coming.

Resistance refers to the assumption that many people will balk at doing the “new” thing because it is different.

I’m no longer sure that the word “change” has any real impact. Everyone knows that life is filled with changes. Many of the programmed approaches have been designed in a way that creates an “us and them” dynamic, not unlike “employee” engagement. In other words: “I want something different than I’m getting now so you have to change.” 


Making changes for the better, whether at work or in your personal life, each have some common elements. Here are some real-life, practical tips accompanied by some semi-deep thoughts:

If you, as a leader, have done a thorough job of explaining your organization’s situation and why it is critical to do specific things differently, you will enable readiness and reduce resistance before it even starts.

Why? Because the human condition demands a reason for doing something differently. Until you answer the “Why?” question satisfactorily, forget about trying to get to the “What.” (See, I just did it).

Readiness is all about understanding and acceptance. Yes, both of those. You can understand something intellectually but you need a certain amount of acceptance to want to act on your understanding. 

What to do:
 When a change is needed, start talking about the situation and what you think needs to happen differently. Make the topic an ongoing conversation over lunch, in meetings, emails, etc. Engage other people in the discussion at every opportunity. Ask them what they think could be done to make this “new” thing happen. Tell managers to make it a conversation in their meetings.

Why? (See, I am trying to model this thing). When the decision to make the change finally happens, it’s not a surprise.

Save surprises for a significant birthday.


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