Conner says that people can only change when they have the ability and willingness to change. To address the lack of ability one can provide training; while lack of willingness can be addressed through a combination of reward and punishment. Resistance is inevitable during change and can be expressed overtly (which is more constructive as it can be addressed) and covertly (which is often the result of low trust and inadequate participation). Resistance is best minimized by encouraging open expression of the resistance for resilient people and organizations learn and grow through the resistance.
Conner, leveraging the research of Dr. Kubler-Ross, says that there are 8 stages of resistance that people go through as they manage through a change:
- Stability - the status quo
- Immobilization - the initial shock to the change
- Denial - when the change is unable to be assimilated it is rejected or ignored
- Anger - this is frustration and hurt often manifested through lashing out at the change
- Bargaining - here people begin to negotiate to avoid the negative impact of change
- Depression - this is often seen as lack of emotional or physical energy or resignation to failure of the change
- Testing - regaining a sense of control people free themselves from victimization and depression by exploring new ways to redefine goals
- Acceptance - here people respond to change realistically and begin to accept its reality
- Uninformed optimism - naive enthusiasm based upon insufficient data
- Informed pessimism - a doubting of the change decision
- Hopeful realism - here you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel
- Informed optimism - this is where confidence returns as a result of trial by fire (e.g. - working through the pessimism)
- Completion - acceptance of the change
Are you or your organization resisting change? If so what stage are you in? How can you build the resilience or resolve to work through the stages of resistance?