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Managing Change Resistance

Identify and overcome sources of change resistance, including the mistakes you are making.

Managing Change Resistance

Identify and overcome sources of change resistance, including the mistakes you are making.
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Section 1 addresses the “essentials” that you have to know to understand why people resist change and what you can do to soften the pain.
This lecture kicks off this "Organizational Change Resistance" course with a welcome and overview of instructor qualifications.
However, before we get to your situation, let us discuss a more basic question How are you going to evaluate Success in Your Learning? Kirkpatrick modeled a four-tier structure for learning effectiveness. Level 1 – Reaction This is the “applause meter” often captured in course ratings early in the course or near the end. Were you “entertained” or left the training “feeling good?” Were you “happy” with the instructor? While nice to hear and easy to assess, this is not my target level of learning effectiveness for you. Level 2 – Learning Recall This is the ability to recall key concepts days later and is often associated with traditional school testing. There are several ways to help with recall, such as desktop references like The Essentials for a topic and Tools for applying the learning on-the-job. However, this is only partial value that I hope you receive. Level 3 – Behavioral Change This is how you approach organizational change months later. This is difficult to capture in course ratings but is a much better indicator of value on your life. Behavioral change from training comes from knowledge retained, mindset shifts, and skill application. This is the minimum learning effectiveness I hope you reach. Level 4 – Organizational Performance This is where I would like to have you reach. At this level, you have not only personally grown, but can apply your learning for the benefit of others through how your organization performs. This is the return on your investment in learning that I work to achieve. Now, back to Your Situation. What problem(s) are you facing now? What do you hope to gain from this course to help? Take a few minutes to think about this – how do you hope to apply what you learn here? Ahead of you awaits essential knowledge and tools for Application. However, higher levels of learning require application to a real situation – Your Situation. Nothing here is intended to be learned in isolation. Everything here is designed for your application as part of the learning process.
Course introduction with a topic overview and discussion of Learning Objectives.
How much is Organizational Change Resistance costing your organization in lost opportunity, low productivity, management time, etc. The total direct and indirect costs may surprise you. Change Management starts with managing the costs of failure to change.
How is Organizational Change Resistance defined? How can we classify Change Recipients in how they resist? How change resistance can be understood at a high level - All Change is Personal. While we might think of this as Change Management, it is much, much more.
Change Resistance is not a one-size-fits-all problem. In fact, the reasons for resistance range from personal (both conscious resistance and unconscious reactions) to poor change visioning to poor change project methodology. This lecture starts to get into how resistance is triggered while viewing Change Management from a different perspective.
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. Since Change Managers define resistance when they see it, they often incorrectly claim normal behavior as resistance, thereby taking actions they would not otherwise take. Further, how the Organizational Change Objective is created and the change initiative is managed can lead to many pitfalls that result in resistance across the organization.
Change Resistance can be demonstrated in an infinite number of ways, unique to each organization and change proposed. Therefore, it is necessary to generalize the types of reactions to change to provide a framework for Change Management. Further, the perception of risk in a proposed change is related to the organization's experience with past attempts at change.
The reasons people generally resist organizational change can be tied to loss of something, learning anxiety, cultural pressures, or personal factors. This lecture lays the last part of the foundation for Change Management of Resistance before going deeper into hidden reasons and how Change Resistance can be Mitigated.
Too much change too quick can cause fatigue to individuals and the organization as a whole. Change fatigue is a situation that occurs when organizations try to attempt too many change initiatives at the same time or in rapid succession. Without giving the organization some time to rest and stabilize what has changed, the risk of resistance grows when the organization is further stretched by adding more change requirements to an already overburdened workload.
Part 1 of a three-part worksheet that serves as an Application of Learning for this course.
This lecture moves beyond how Change Resistance is demonstrated through behavior to the six unconscious (psychological) factors that are often hidden from not only the Change Manager, but the Change Recipient as well. This is the first step in moving from understanding resistance to mitigating it.
Routine management actions can accidentally trigger change resistance, an added challenge for Change Management. In this lecture, the six core unconscious needs are discussed relative to how normal managerial action can trigger resistance.
This worksheet has Part 2a (Assessment of Core Psychological Needs) and 2b (Designing a Change Plan that Minimizes Resistance). See the full worksheet in Section 3 to find how to interpret your answers to the questions in this worksheet.
This lecture discusses the first four responses that Change Managers can take when encountering resistance. Two of the four are essentially admitting failure with the other two reactionary in nature. In the next lecture, two proactive responses are added to the list.
This lecture completes the six approaches for dealing with organizational change resistance with the two proactive ways to mitigate (prevent) resistance from arising. The lecture concludes with a discussion on group dynamics involved in resistance dampening or reinforcement.
Contrary to what many people believe, change resistance offers many benefits in correcting mistakes in designing the change objective and process employed to implement the organizational change. This lecture helps you identify these benefits and use them to your advantage. Further, active resistance is better than passive-aggressive behavior when it comes to successfully moving a change initiative forward.
This worksheet has Part 3 (Are You causing the Change Resistance?). See the full worksheet in Section 3 to find how to interpret your answers to the questions in this worksheet.
This is the first of two summaries - examining the effectiveness of the possible approaches to managing change resistance. One approach leads to likely failure of the change initiative and three others are typically employed, but with some difficulty and mixed success. Of the two most effective approaches, the second is probably the best due to difficulty in avoiding some issues that might arise when using of the most effective option.
The second summary focuses on the mitigation of organizational change resistance. This is a "not to be missed" lecture that captures the essential action items that change leaders need to build into their change visioning and change managers need for planning the change initiative process.
The fourth section of the worksheet walks through action planning based on responses to the first three sections of the worksheet.
Section 2 is a deeper dive into content addressed in a college-level course on organizational change. Knowledge in this section will help you better understand organizational change resistance so you can further refine how you define your change objective and craft the change methodology.
Reasons (excuses) for resistance are everywhere! Better to focus on designing and executing a well-crafted change plan than try to anticipate all possible areas of resistance.
It is difficult to isolate change resistance to a single aspect of organizational change since any mistake made anywhere is likely to trigger resistance.
This document is part of an exchange I had with a student on how to solve a problem of Change Resistance - Firing them! While that works on a TV reality show and for willful insubordination, terminating someone is not easy. In fact, going through all the steps and preparing the documentation necessary for internal and legal review is very hard. It is much easier to deal with change resistance with a soft hand and termination should only be considered as a last resort. Change Management is much more than firing anyone who disagrees with you.
This documen discusses how resistance is often labeled "irrational" by those managing the change process. However, those in the role of Change Management see the situation from a different viewpoint than the Change Recipients.
Four models of how people move through Organizational Change Acceptance, which are key behaviors to understand for Change Management.
This lecture re-thinks change resistance by separating what is said from the change behavior is exhibited. This shift in mindset of organizational change resistance moves to active engagement (connects back to the previous lecture). Emphasis is also placed on who defines change resistance - those leading the change initiative. By defining resistance there is great risk in improperly labeling normal behavior as resistance, thereby setting up the possibility of using unwarranted management pressure, that likely creates real, unnecessary resistance to the organizational change. (This might be classified as Change Management Malpractice.)
Complexity Science provides a good foundation for understanding why organizational change is successful and why it often fails. This slide just touches on complexity science as it applies to change resistance and really needs to be expanded to a few lectures, complemented by a separate course on change within a paradigm of complexity. (Let me know your interest so I can prioritize future development efforts on this topic.)
Section 3 organizes everything into a desktop reference – what you will often need when leading a change initiative.
This is part of the Essentials for Organizational Change - the minimum that you must understand about how change resistance originates with a focus on change objective, change process, and core psychological needs.
This document is part of the Essentials series - the minimum that you must understand for dealing with change resistance.
All four parts of the worksheet, available as an everyday reference tool. The first three sections help focus on where resistance is likely and the fourth section pulls everything together of Action Planning for Change (without) Resistance.
This slide summarizes a great deal about what drives resistance and what can be done to prevent it.
Confusion over "change models" often arises when the purpose of the model is overlooked. This slide is from the "Change Models" course, but duplicated here since it provides insight to where change resistance fits within the larger organizational change landscape.
This is a key slide that captures the six core psychological needs and how they connect to change resistance. This is not only a good reference document for managing change, but good advice for everyday management.
This document captures the many references I used when preparing this course. Go deeper into these resources if you are inclined or scan the many items for supplemental study.

This course is for the Inadvertent Change Manager – the department manager or project leader – forced to address resistance to meet goals.  You need to get everyone on-board with the task at hand.  You are not a change expert, but your success is on the line. Things are not happening – that Need to Happen.  You are facing resistance to your plans – Resistance that Stands Between You and Your Goals. 

This course is for the manager who is facing challenges and needs a pathway to a solution.  Content for the course comes from 40+ years of professional and academic experience - practical solutions with supporting resources.  This course is NOT for those wanting entertainment.  (However, I can provide some recommendations for cat videos on request.)

Requirements

This course is an intermediate level course. You will benefit from having lived through a change experienced in the past, which was likely to have failed to fully reach its potential (something that will be addressed in this course).

Section 1 addresses the “essentials” that you have to know to understand why people resist change and what you can do to soften the pain.
This lecture kicks off this "Organizational Change Resistance" course with a welcome and overview of instructor qualifications.
However, before we get to your situation, let us discuss a more basic question How are you going to evaluate Success in Your Learning? Kirkpatrick modeled a four-tier structure for learning effectiveness. Level 1 – Reaction This is the “applause meter” often captured in course ratings early in the course or near the end. Were you “entertained” or left the training “feeling good?” Were you “happy” with the instructor? While nice to hear and easy to assess, this is not my target level of learning effectiveness for you. Level 2 – Learning Recall This is the ability to recall key concepts days later and is often associated with traditional school testing. There are several ways to help with recall, such as desktop references like The Essentials for a topic and Tools for applying the learning on-the-job. However, this is only partial value that I hope you receive. Level 3 – Behavioral Change This is how you approach organizational change months later. This is difficult to capture in course ratings but is a much better indicator of value on your life. Behavioral change from training comes from knowledge retained, mindset shifts, and skill application. This is the minimum learning effectiveness I hope you reach. Level 4 – Organizational Performance This is where I would like to have you reach. At this level, you have not only personally grown, but can apply your learning for the benefit of others through how your organization performs. This is the return on your investment in learning that I work to achieve. Now, back to Your Situation. What problem(s) are you facing now? What do you hope to gain from this course to help? Take a few minutes to think about this – how do you hope to apply what you learn here? Ahead of you awaits essential knowledge and tools for Application. However, higher levels of learning require application to a real situation – Your Situation. Nothing here is intended to be learned in isolation. Everything here is designed for your application as part of the learning process.
Course introduction with a topic overview and discussion of Learning Objectives.
How much is Organizational Change Resistance costing your organization in lost opportunity, low productivity, management time, etc. The total direct and indirect costs may surprise you. Change Management starts with managing the costs of failure to change.
How is Organizational Change Resistance defined? How can we classify Change Recipients in how they resist? How change resistance can be understood at a high level - All Change is Personal. While we might think of this as Change Management, it is much, much more.
Change Resistance is not a one-size-fits-all problem. In fact, the reasons for resistance range from personal (both conscious resistance and unconscious reactions) to poor change visioning to poor change project methodology. This lecture starts to get into how resistance is triggered while viewing Change Management from a different perspective.
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. Since Change Managers define resistance when they see it, they often incorrectly claim normal behavior as resistance, thereby taking actions they would not otherwise take. Further, how the Organizational Change Objective is created and the change initiative is managed can lead to many pitfalls that result in resistance across the organization.
Change Resistance can be demonstrated in an infinite number of ways, unique to each organization and change proposed. Therefore, it is necessary to generalize the types of reactions to change to provide a framework for Change Management. Further, the perception of risk in a proposed change is related to the organization's experience with past attempts at change.
The reasons people generally resist organizational change can be tied to loss of something, learning anxiety, cultural pressures, or personal factors. This lecture lays the last part of the foundation for Change Management of Resistance before going deeper into hidden reasons and how Change Resistance can be Mitigated.
Too much change too quick can cause fatigue to individuals and the organization as a whole. Change fatigue is a situation that occurs when organizations try to attempt too many change initiatives at the same time or in rapid succession. Without giving the organization some time to rest and stabilize what has changed, the risk of resistance grows when the organization is further stretched by adding more change requirements to an already overburdened workload.
Part 1 of a three-part worksheet that serves as an Application of Learning for this course.
This lecture moves beyond how Change Resistance is demonstrated through behavior to the six unconscious (psychological) factors that are often hidden from not only the Change Manager, but the Change Recipient as well. This is the first step in moving from understanding resistance to mitigating it.
Routine management actions can accidentally trigger change resistance, an added challenge for Change Management. In this lecture, the six core unconscious needs are discussed relative to how normal managerial action can trigger resistance.
This worksheet has Part 2a (Assessment of Core Psychological Needs) and 2b (Designing a Change Plan that Minimizes Resistance). See the full worksheet in Section 3 to find how to interpret your answers to the questions in this worksheet.
This lecture discusses the first four responses that Change Managers can take when encountering resistance. Two of the four are essentially admitting failure with the other two reactionary in nature. In the next lecture, two proactive responses are added to the list.
This lecture completes the six approaches for dealing with organizational change resistance with the two proactive ways to mitigate (prevent) resistance from arising. The lecture concludes with a discussion on group dynamics involved in resistance dampening or reinforcement.
Contrary to what many people believe, change resistance offers many benefits in correcting mistakes in designing the change objective and process employed to implement the organizational change. This lecture helps you identify these benefits and use them to your advantage. Further, active resistance is better than passive-aggressive behavior when it comes to successfully moving a change initiative forward.
This worksheet has Part 3 (Are You causing the Change Resistance?). See the full worksheet in Section 3 to find how to interpret your answers to the questions in this worksheet.
This is the first of two summaries - examining the effectiveness of the possible approaches to managing change resistance. One approach leads to likely failure of the change initiative and three others are typically employed, but with some difficulty and mixed success. Of the two most effective approaches, the second is probably the best due to difficulty in avoiding some issues that might arise when using of the most effective option.
The second summary focuses on the mitigation of organizational change resistance. This is a "not to be missed" lecture that captures the essential action items that change leaders need to build into their change visioning and change managers need for planning the change initiative process.
The fourth section of the worksheet walks through action planning based on responses to the first three sections of the worksheet.
Section 2 is a deeper dive into content addressed in a college-level course on organizational change. Knowledge in this section will help you better understand organizational change resistance so you can further refine how you define your change objective and craft the change methodology.
Reasons (excuses) for resistance are everywhere! Better to focus on designing and executing a well-crafted change plan than try to anticipate all possible areas of resistance.
It is difficult to isolate change resistance to a single aspect of organizational change since any mistake made anywhere is likely to trigger resistance.
This document is part of an exchange I had with a student on how to solve a problem of Change Resistance - Firing them! While that works on a TV reality show and for willful insubordination, terminating someone is not easy. In fact, going through all the steps and preparing the documentation necessary for internal and legal review is very hard. It is much easier to deal with change resistance with a soft hand and termination should only be considered as a last resort. Change Management is much more than firing anyone who disagrees with you.
This documen discusses how resistance is often labeled "irrational" by those managing the change process. However, those in the role of Change Management see the situation from a different viewpoint than the Change Recipients.
Four models of how people move through Organizational Change Acceptance, which are key behaviors to understand for Change Management.
This lecture re-thinks change resistance by separating what is said from the change behavior is exhibited. This shift in mindset of organizational change resistance moves to active engagement (connects back to the previous lecture). Emphasis is also placed on who defines change resistance - those leading the change initiative. By defining resistance there is great risk in improperly labeling normal behavior as resistance, thereby setting up the possibility of using unwarranted management pressure, that likely creates real, unnecessary resistance to the organizational change. (This might be classified as Change Management Malpractice.)
Complexity Science provides a good foundation for understanding why organizational change is successful and why it often fails. This slide just touches on complexity science as it applies to change resistance and really needs to be expanded to a few lectures, complemented by a separate course on change within a paradigm of complexity. (Let me know your interest so I can prioritize future development efforts on this topic.)
Section 3 organizes everything into a desktop reference – what you will often need when leading a change initiative.
This is part of the Essentials for Organizational Change - the minimum that you must understand about how change resistance originates with a focus on change objective, change process, and core psychological needs.
This document is part of the Essentials series - the minimum that you must understand for dealing with change resistance.
All four parts of the worksheet, available as an everyday reference tool. The first three sections help focus on where resistance is likely and the fourth section pulls everything together of Action Planning for Change (without) Resistance.
This slide summarizes a great deal about what drives resistance and what can be done to prevent it.
Confusion over "change models" often arises when the purpose of the model is overlooked. This slide is from the "Change Models" course, but duplicated here since it provides insight to where change resistance fits within the larger organizational change landscape.
This is a key slide that captures the six core psychological needs and how they connect to change resistance. This is not only a good reference document for managing change, but good advice for everyday management.
This document captures the many references I used when preparing this course. Go deeper into these resources if you are inclined or scan the many items for supplemental study.

About the instructors

Dr. Ross Wirth

Professor & org-change consultant
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Dr. Wirth is a recognied educator and org-change practitioner who now focuses his time to help others learn what he has mastered over the past 40+ years. 

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