Choices During Change - Resist or Reframe

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Many employees will resist change. How they resist and the choices they make can influence the success of the change initiative, the morale of the team, the engagement of the employee and the impact on productivity and/or service. Often these choices are made unconsciously. Communicating openly and honestly and sharing the choices employees have and how their behavior will impact them, the team and the change is a critical step to managing employee resistance. Engage in conversation to help employees reframe their thinking versus resist the change.

Choices and their Outcomes
Time of Change Choices with Positive Outcomes Choices with Negative Outcomes
Before Change
  • Learn about the change
  • Ask how you can help
  • Find out what you can do to prepare for the change
  • Display a positive outlook
  • Encourage constructive conversations with peers
  • Be open and honest with your feedback regarding the change
  • Be curious
  • Talk badly about the proposed change
  • Speak negatively about the university
  • Stop doing your responsibilities or do them carelessly
  • Speak negatively about people in the university
During Change
  • Ask questions about the future
  • Ask how the change will impact day-to-day activities
  • Provide input into the change
  • Find out what new skills and abilities you will need to perform when the change is in place
  • Assess your own strengths and areas of growth
  • Identify training to fill skill gaps
  • Take advantage of the change to develop new skills and grow professionally
  • Block progress or sabotage the change process
  • Talk negatively about the change<M/li>
  • Ignore the change/pretend that it’s not happening
  • Prevent others from participating in the design or implementation of the change
After Change
  • Reinforce the change with peers, managers, etc.
  • Help your team achieve the results expected from the change
  • Avoid reverting back to old processes or ways of doing work when problems arise
  • Help solve problems that arise with the new work processes or tolls
  • Have an “We can make this happen” attitude
  • Avoid using the new work or processes
  • Talk negatively about the new work or processes to peers and encourage them not to use them
  • Talk negatively about the university with customers
  • Revert to the “old way” of doing things when problems or challenges arise with the change
  • Take advantage of problems once implemented to argue why the change will never work
  • Have an “I told you so” attitude

Manager Tool for Addressing Resistance to Change

  • What comments have you heard or behaviors have you seen that indicate employees are resistant to the change you are implementing?
  • What do you think the underlying motivations for these reactions are?

Manager Self-Assessment

  • Have you had a one-on-one conversation with individuals who are resistant to change to better understand their reaction?
  • Have you encouraged them to express their feelings and thoughts openly?
  • Have you remained curious and explored their concerns by asking clarifying questions?
  • Are you fully listening to their responses and genuinely trying to understand their perspective?
  • Have you communicated the benefits of the change?
  • Have you explored ways to engage them in the process so they feel more invested and accountable?
  • Have you incorporated any of their ideas or suggestions?
  • Have you thought about how you might be adding to their feelings of resistance?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above you may want to rethink how you’re addressing individual’s resistance to change.