Change Resistance - Finding the Tipping Point for Employees
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
A typical question asked by the organisation’s C-Suite and leadership team is, “How long will the change take before we start to see the benefits?” The project change plan and the benefits tracking plan, if accurate and up to date, should provide a very good indication. The next question is usually, “Is there anything else we could be doing to speed up adoption and benefits delivery?” If all the a2BCMF® steps are being adhered to, then the simple answer is, “Yes, by reducing or removing resistance to the change.” The best way of doing this is to work with the three groups with the support of the change agents to find the ‘Tipping Point’.
“Nothing negatively impacts organisation performance quicker than employees who resists change and who believes that the way they work today is the way they will work tomorrow”
Once the tipping point is reached, an amazing phenomenon takes place, whereby more and more people start adopting the new way of working as well as embracing the change at an accelerated pace. There is no greater delight than to see a ‘Rebel’ accept the organisational change willingly and even becoming an ‘Advocate’.
“Without employee resistance, you will not achieve organisational change"
Employee Groups involved in a Change Journey
There are three groups of employees in any change management journey: ‘Advocates’, ‘Observers’ and ‘Rebels’. Each group will react differently to organisational change and will have different levels of resistance.
~ Advocates: They tend to embrace and lead change within the organisation. This group of employees are more comfortable with change, see the positives and should be the organisation’s first targets in the change. However, is it also important that the organisation’s leadership and management engage, listen to feedback and support the advocates through the change process.
~ Observers: They will monitor the ‘Advocates’ and assess if the change is actually benefiting them. If this appears positive, they will tend to move towards being receptive to the change. They will want to understand ‘What’s In it For Me?’ (WIFM). To facilitate the transition of the ‘Advocates’ from the current state 'a' to the desired and improved state 'B', the change team should create employee desire to move towards the ‘Tipping Point’ in their messaging and communication.
~ Rebels: They tend to resist change blindly, even if the change is to their benefit. The default reaction is that change is a bad thing and will put them at a disadvantage. While this can in some cases be put down to bad experience, there is also fear of the unknown, the new skills required, “Will I be needed in the future?” A lot more engagement and communication will be needed with this group to get them involved. The objective is to ensure they follow the ‘Advocates’, but some ‘Rebels’ will not make the transition.
“Even if a change is good for the organisation, some employees will resist, thus a resistance strategy should be planned”
Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.
Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (May 2020) by Thinkers360.
Business Book Ranking: Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.