How to win over people who resist change in 3 simple steps

How to win over people who resist change in 3 simple steps
People at work

What according to you is the one common thing among the leaders saying the following?

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” — Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 2007.

Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946.

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” — Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1876.

The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” — President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903.

Each of them was resisting change. As per a recent KPMG Global Transformation study, a staggering 70% of transformation efforts fail due to employee resistance.

Why people resist change?

People object to change due to two reasons – fear of loss or complacency

Fear of loss – People fear that the transformation could result in loss of old work, habits, colleagues or their influence in decision making.

Complacency – When employees develop their comfort zone in organizations after being associated with it for some years, it leads to complacency and when they hear talks of change, many are not willing to give up their comfort zone.

So, how to win over people who resist to change?

Transformational leaders follow 3 simple steps to reduce resistance

  1. Leaders identify the naysayers early on and set up discussion rounds with them to address and resolve their concerns – This involves deep listening to identify their real concerns, a clear and empathetic communication to address and resolve these concerns, highlighting the need and impact of the transformation initiative in the long term and if need be, creating a sense of FOMO for anyone who wants to miss the bus!
  2. Leaders influence the social circle of naysayers in the organization – Every human wants to be accepted by his social circle and hence keeps his behavior in accordance with this circle. By influencing and convincing the social circle of naysayers at office, leaders can have an indirect, yet a powerful impact on the naysayers.
  3. Leaders also empower the change agents – This helps the change agents (or the initial adaptors of transformation) to drive the momentum and deal with any roadblocks set up intentionally by the resistors. It also sends out a clear message to the deal breakers regarding the intent of the management about the transformation.

Once, the resistance is managed, the next challenge is to be able to reduce ambiguity and doubt that arises while the transformation is in process for some time. Our next blog will deal with ways to moderate water cooler conversations – an often ignored but highly potent way to magnify the momentum of change or derail it completely.


This blog is part of the Transformational Leadership series

Transformational Leadership aims to achieve significant changes across teams and organizations by inspiring and motivating participants to work towards a common goal (inspired by their aspirations) that not only brings long term prosperity to the organization but also helps the employees expand their own potential and fulfill their intrinsic dreams.

We present to you a series of data backed posts on some of the most pressing issues of Transformational Leadership with real life business examples of how they have been overcome by some of the world’s most famous Transformational Leaders.

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