Resistant to change? Or saturated?

Years ago, my bright, brilliant, beautiful wife looked me in the eye and said "Do you know what's wrong with you?"

If you have been married any length of time you know I had just encountered the mother of all questions that there is no right answer for.

If I start my response by denying there is anything wrong with me, I am sunk.

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 If I start listing the things I know ("I sneak chocolate bars at work") then I am probably sunk, since there's a good possibility that she isn't talking about my chocolate bar habit and then I've just given her more ammunition for a future discussion.

So I do the smart thing and say "Really? What might that be?" then get ready to settle in for a long discussion. 

The kind you don't dare act as if they are not important.

Even if they are at midnight.

So here I was, ready to be enlightened, and she says:  "Your problem is that you thrive on change!"

There it was.

It didn't seem like a such a big thing, and my chocolate bar secret was safe.

But the way she said it made it sound like it wasn't a particularly good thing.

One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to identify the direction a team or organization needs to go, and them implement the changes necessary to make it happen.

In our world, changing for the right reasons is a very good thing.  It keeps us gainfully employed.

But my discussion with my wife brought out the other side of change that every leader needs to consider.

The changes you bring into an organization impact real people... some of which have a much reduced capacity for change than you do.

For some people (and organizations) there is such a thing as too much change, too soon.

People become overwhelmed.

They start resisting your efforts.

If there are any mistakes made during the implementation of the changes (and there always are), they become amplified and used as reasons why people can't do their jobs.

And it can all come back to you.

It's been said that if you are working to bring change into an organization and you don't encounter any resistance, you are not changing the right things.

While I have found this to be profoundly true, there is a corollary to this rule.

If all you are getting is resistance, then perhaps you are changing too much.

Before you undertake any change initiatives, be sure you understand your organization's capacity and tolerance for change. 

You need to adjust the pace of change to get the best results in the shortest period of time.

But do it based on a pace set by your organization, not necessarily your personal capacity for change.

If the pace set by your organization is too slow to be competitive in the market, or to achieve a time sensitive strategic objective, then you may have to work on another area of change first - the one Jim Collins in his book Good to Great describes as "getting the wrong people off the bus, and the right people on the bus".

But that is a subject for another post.

How about you?  How tolerant is your organzation for the right kinds of change?

How have you dealt with a change resistant group?  Leave a comment!

And don't worry.  Your chocolate bar secret is safe with me.


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