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Lower resistance to change by following these 2 simple truths

Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley offer leaders a blueprint for leading change without provoking change resistance.

5 min read


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Weaving Influence is a full-service digital marketing agency. Since launching 10 years ago, Weaving Influence has helped clients launch more than 150 books, carving its niche in working with authors, thought leaders, coaches, consultants, trainers, nonprofit leaders and speakers to market their services and books. This post is by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley.

Have you and your team been experiencing any change recently?

Ha! That’s a silly question, isn’t it? Change is all around us!

On top of all the “usual” changes like mergers and acquisitions, technology advancements, and product innovations, we’re heading into the third year of a global pandemic that has snarled the supply chain and fueled social anxiety.

Leaders and organizations have had to make drastic changes in the last few years just to survive. It’s been said that we’ve experienced a decade’s worth of change in just a few short years.

Change is a wonderful opportunity for leaders to take their organizations to new heights. But our experience has shown that most leaders get behind closed doors, hatch a change initiative to fix a problem they think exists, and then roll out the plan to their teams.

People have a hard time getting behind an organizational change effort they had no part in creating. Too many leaders think all the brains are in the executive wing and they don’t need the input of others.

In our new book, “Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust,” we share a collection of simple truths that reflect commonsense practices people can use to be more successful at work and in life.

The following two simple truths can help you lead change efforts and build trust in the process:

Simple truth No. 1: People don’t resist change; they resist being controlled

One of the great myths about change is that people automatically resist it. The truth is, most people don’t actually resist the change itself. They resist being told to change and forced to go along with it. In reality, they resist being controlled.

While it is not always practical to involve people in plan­ning a change strategy, it is important that they know the reasons the change is needed and the anticipated advantages of effectively implementing it. The more leaders involve team members in the change process by soliciting their ideas and opinions and by sharing information, the less con­trolled people feel — and the more open they will be to the change effort.

Making common sense common practice

Part of a leader’s job is to initiate change. Organizations are living organisms, and all living beings grow and change. The challenge for leaders is to help people not only accept change but also embrace the opportunities it presents.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Even if your team members don’t have a vote in the change, give them a voice.
  • Proactively ask people for their ideas about change and solicit their concerns.
  • Pay special attention to addressing their concerns about how the change will personally affect them.
  • Involve them in identifying what is under their control and how they can best adapt to the change.

Simple truth No. 2: People who plan the battle rarely battle the plan

Great leaders understand they are only as good as the people they gather around them. They know involving peo­ple early in a change initiative is critical to its success.

Peo­ple have predictable concerns about organizational change. When they can play a part in implementing the plan and are allowed to express their concerns and contribute their ideas and feedback, they are more likely to align behind the plan and help accomplish it.

Leaders need to address the following concerns to help their people adapt to change:

  • Information concerns: People want to know what you know. Share information about the change to prevent rumors and confusion. Keep communicating verified facts.
  • Personal concerns: People want to know how the change will affect them. Let them express their feelings and be ready with answers to their questions.
  • Implementation concerns: People want to know how to perform in the face of change. Involve them in finding ways forward. You need their buy-in to succeed.
  • Impact concerns: People want to know whether the change is working. Be encouraging, focus on the positive impact of people’s efforts, and recognize their success.
  • Refinement concerns: People want to keep improving systems and processes. Continue to practice these leadership strategies, and keep lines of communication open.

Your organizational change efforts will only succeed to the level they are supported by your people. Turning these commonsense principles into common practice will demonstrate you are a trusted servant leader and will help your team members embrace the opportunities ahead.

Ken Blanchard is one of the world’s most influential leadership experts. He is co-author of more than 65 books including the iconic “The One Minute Manager,” with combined sales of over 23 million copies in 47 languages.

Randy Conley is vice president of global professional services and Trust Practice leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is co-author of Blanchard’s Building Trust training program, and his Leading with Trust blog has influenced over 4 million viewers since its inception.

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