Resistance to Change – A Story about Roger

By Alison Maxwell

I met Roger* last week. I was facilitating an intensive workshop for a large group of very disgruntled managers. They had all been through the mill, bruised survivors of a protracted change process which had left them with roles and responsibilities they didn’t fully understand, and weren’t sure if they wanted. Roger was typical – there was nothing anyone could say or do that would convince him the changes had been of any benefit – and he fully intended to carrying on working as he always had (thank you very much). The management team, increasingly frustrated with his intractability, were running out of ideas on how to convince him.

Rick Maurer (US change management consultant and public speaker) usefully talks about 3 types of resistance to change:

  • Level 1 – “I don’t get it” . This is resistance borne out of just not understanding what the change is all about – the why? and the WIIFM.
  • Level 2 – “I don’t like it” At this level people ‘get’ the change, but they just hate it.
  • Level 3 – “I don’t trust you/ the organisation”  At this level people respond not to the change per se but who is suggesting it

Roger’s case struck me as good example of how we can deal with resistance at the wrong level. Roger ‘got’ the change, he understood the logic for it and he may even have liked it. However, the change process has left him with a deep distrust of the organisation and its leadership. The more the management team pushed the logic of the change, the more he dug his heals in. What was needed was not more Powerpoint presentations but a chance for Roger to reconnect with the organisation and repair relationships with his leaders and colleagues.

Here is Rick talking about this

So.. what form of resistance to change are you meeting in the workplace. Are you tackling resistance at the right level?

*not his real name

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