Monday, August 27, 2012

Changing How You Lead Change

What if I told you that by killing the resistance to change... 
you were also killing commitment to change?

One of the early truths of psychology (1890s Edward Lee Thorndike) is

Stimulus               ------------------->              Response

Not ALL resistance to change is irrational.  In fact, resistance is often just a sign that the planning process did not include the people who you most need to depend on to successfully implement the change.

Cawsey, Desza, and Ingols (2012) identify five roles of organizational change:
  1. change leader or change agent (Stimulus)
  2. change initiator (Stimulus)
  3. change implementer (Stimulus)
  4. change facilitator (Stimulus)
  5. change recipient (Response)
These five roles also represent a continuum of sending (stimulus) and receiving (response) change, with change agents the original senders, and change recipients the ultimate receivers of the change.  Leaders know that they want commitment and do not want resistance.  Employees know this, and in order to maintain the security of their job, they do not openly resist change.  However, they are not committing to the changes either. 

So if change recipients are not openly resisting change and they are not committing to change, then what is it that they are doing that is contributing to the success or failure of the change?  

Likewise, what is it that the change senders are doing that is contributing to the success or failure of the change? 

Change agents and change initiators have the advantage of high participation in making decisions about the change efforts, as they are either the forces behind the creation of the change or the inventors of the change.  With this invention comes the energy associated with freedom of choice rather than the forces of coercion and compliance. 

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