Resistance Is Futile. Change!

Change Management: Story War
Image by daveelf via Flickr

Have you ever become so overwhelmed by so many changes that you refuse to change any more?

Exposure to a lot of change over time, can create stress and result in one feeling overwhelmed and overloaded and unable to adapt to more changes. Understanding  the change process can help get oneself unstuck from resisting change and allow one to  take the steps toward adopting the changes as the new normal.

A Case of Too Much Change

The underperforming sales team I once worked with had been together for over five years. A couple of the salespeople had been in the same job for well over 10 years. They had enjoyed success up until this point. Something had changed and now they were in trouble. My job was to try to figure out why they were suddenly failing. 

I’m a performance improvement specialist. It is a very challenging and rewarding profession. I love to get to the real “why” or root cause reason a person or team is not performing to management’s expectations.  Most people would call me a business consultant. I like to think of myself as a “Gap Guru” or maybe a “Why? Guy”.

In this case, the sales team’s performance gap was mainly caused by changes accumulating. This resulted in the people becoming change saturated.  The straw that broke this team’s back was a significant change in their daily sales process.  If this had been the only change, they would have probably been resilient enough to deal with the change. Unfortunately, this team had experienced too many changes over several years with mergers and acquisitions and management changes.  The only real constant for this group had been the group members themselves.  The business world had changed all around them. Through it all, the people had remained the same and had attempted to wait out the change storm together. At some point, they had each decided that enough change had piled up and that they were not going to change any more.

By coming to terms with the situation and learning about their place in the change cycle, this sales team was able to restart the change process.  They quickly began to experience the benefits of adopting the new sales processes and adjusted the way they worked. Many of the salespeople showed signs of succeeding under the new performance measures.  They become the success model for others to follow.

Understanding the change process can help us deal more quickly with change. 

The Change Process

1) A change happens.

2) We deny or attempt to ignore the change.

3) We resist the change.

4) We experiment with the change.

5) We adapt, adopt, accept and commit to changing.

6) We change.

Changes in the situation can cause us to slip backwards in the process at any time.  Just when we think we have accepted and adapted to a change, we may find ourselves back in denial or resistance. 

Processing Changes

Knowing where one is in the change cycle is critical if one wishes to actually change.  Change is hard.  It takes hard work and support.

Talking openly about how one feels about a change is helpful in moving one through the change cycle. Having the support of one’s leaders and those around you, can also speed the change process.

Once the sales team began to move from resistance into experimentation, they quickly started to feel like the benefits of the change outweighed the negatives. These positive feelings helped to propel them forward in the change cycle.They said goodbye to the “old way” of doing things and accepted and adopted the “new way” of doing their jobs.  It wasn’t easy, but they knew that it was necessary and their newly changed behaviors and attitudes resulted in sales increases.

Adopt a Change

Accept, adopt, adapt and commit to change.  Our ability to change is what keeps us from becoming extinct dinosaurs.

Where are you in the change cycle when you think about your most important changes that you are attempting to make?  What do you need to do to move forward in the change cycle?

Resistance is futile.  Change is inevitable.  Our new normal is to always be changing at an ever-increasing rate.

Learning to recognize your normal reactions to changes and how you tend to best deal with change can help you succeed in changing.  Change is not easy, but it is often necessary. If you get stuck,  you can always call a gap guru like me… for a change.

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