It is no secret that guiding individual and organizational change can be challenging. When faced with a new change initiative, the most pressing challenge is to motivate individuals to adapt to a recent process change, routine, or technology.

The current global crisis has made us witness challenges that have changed our business dynamics while shaping our new normal.

We have seen a material shift to remote working, e-learning, e-health services, e-government services, and surges in e-commerce activities over the last few months.

Changes will be required to improve interactions between colleagues while increasing the need to reassess virtual routes to the market.

The forced changes in our work environment and consequential social settings embody situational adaptation. They prove that change is cultivated by force or desire because we believe it will address a need.

The premise of success (or survival) for many companies is to adapt to change in a more appropriate way to customers and employees.

Set routines, predictability, and stability govern the everyday work of humans. Thus, it is crucial to understand that change does not always come easy and can be met with resistance. So how do you embrace the unpredictability of change with less resistance in your work environment?

This article focuses on tips to embrace the resistance to change, which we believe will focus on critical corporate decision-making in the future.

Approaching Change

To effectively manage change, the people being affected need to be considered the process, technology, and financial aspects.

William Bridges, an expert on organizational change, describes it as “the psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about.”

The William Bridges Transition Model identifies three stages of change experienced by individuals with a direct impact on his/her productivity during the transition. These include Ending What Currently Is, The Neutral Zone, and The New Beginning.

You will notice a curve in this transition model that starts at Endings and Ends at New Beginnings.

So what’s with the curve?

The first phase, “Endings,” focuses on the resistance that people are likely to have, followed by emotional responses like shock, denial, complaints, questioning, arguing, frustration, sadness, fear, and anxiety that come along. It then transitions to letting go of the current state of affairs.

Here, people are forced outside their comfort zones. There is also a natural drop in productivity, as change or disruption is understood better.

Useful Tips
  1. Identify who will be affected by describing the change specifically.
  2. For a person, consider what they are going to let go of.
  3. Accept reality and consider subjective losses and perceptions. Don’t try to rationalize change and make it objective.
  4. Acknowledge losses openly and sympathetically through open communication.
  5. Be proactive in compensating for the losses and bring balance.
  6. Define what’s over and what is not to avoid work overload, low productivity, burnout, incompatibility, and chaos.

During the second phase, the “Neutral Zone,” people are trapped in figuring out where to go next. This usually leads to getting geared up and equipped for the new reality with workaround mechanisms. This is paired with overcoming confusion, resentment, disorientation, skepticism, low morale, and apathy. This stage is considered the bridge between what happened and what might happen. The Neutral Zone can drastically affect our ability to be productive while coping.

Useful Tips

Create a Temporary Business Continuance by answering these questions.
  1. What should you continue doing/what should you not forget to do?
  2. What new things might you need to do or put in place or do differently?
  3. Ensure teams are working together and individuals have access to information.
Understand the Impact of Change

In times of change, managers must broaden their communication networks to get the real picture and prepare themselves to hear even the worst things about change.

Get creative
  1. The neutral zone offers a great time to step back and reflect and question the usual way of doing things with creative alternatives.
  2. Train people, support them and allow them to put their learning into practice.
  3. Brainstorm new answers to old problems – try to find ways to refine solutions until one works better than the other.

The third phase, “New Beginnings,” represents acceptance and transitioning to embrace the change. It means moving in a positive direction and thus “Increases the Curve.” It denotes excitement, potential, and commitment to new ideas.

Useful Tips

  1. Understand that change is happening.
  2. Avoid triggering old memories and uncertainties, and don’t be concerned about the consequences.
  3. Get back to structure, accountability, and possible pressure.

In a similar approach, the ADKAR five-step model designed by Jeff Hiatt effectively guides organizational change initiatives.

Using the ADKAR Model for Change Management | Lucidchart Blog

Although each model presents a slightly different approach, both begin with managing resistance. Here are some practical tips on helping employees avoid and embrace resistance at the same time

Wrapping Up

Dr. Jim Maddox, a professor at the University of Arkansas, suggests embracing resistance is “the duality of moving toward something we simultaneously desire to move away from or avoid.”

You might wonder how an organization can plan to avoid resistance yet embrace resistance at the same time.

Embracing resistance is recognizing humans have the tendency to resist change and then leaning into such resistance. This means uncovering the potential resistance to change by consulting and collaborating with those impacted by the change.

Radiant Digital has been helping COVID-disrupted organizations to embrace the resistance to change gracefully.

Our areas of expertise include remote workforce management, distance learning solutions, and consulting to transition from instructor-led training to online training.

We can help you map your change management process, prepare you for resistance, and provide simple solutions tailored to your needs. Connect with us to learn more.