In Chapter 6 Conner continues by talking about the next support pattern, the Process of Change, or the mechanisms of human transition. He says that people who adapt more slowly than others have a low tolerance for ambiguity and see life in black and white or yes and no terms. Resilient people, however, realize that change is fluid and that much of their time will be spent in transitions.
Conner outlines a three phase transition state first outlined by Kurt Lewin in 1958 which says that there are three states: the present state, the transition state, and the desired state. The present state is the status quo. The transition state is that state of uncertainty where we develop new attitudes and behaviors. This can be a scary time and people often revert back to the old state due to the sense of ambiguity. The desired state is new state.
To get through the phases Conner refers back to Charles Darwins theory of survival of the fittest. He says more organizations initiate change than actually successfully sustain it. He says winners are those resilient individuals or organizations who manage change at a speed that allows them effectively implement transition on time and on budget. He says one of the biggest differences of winners compared to losers is tenacity. He says that a burning platform is often a reason that organizations have that tenacity as it is the resolve, or usually a business imperative, that requires them to make a change.
A burning platform situation often occurs as a result of already being in pain or due to anticipated pain. If a change is introduced due to anticipated pain then the organization often has more time to make strategic moves. Commitment comes with the resolve. Conner continues by saying that any change not only needs pain, but also a remedy to solve the problem. In order to sell the change it is often necessary to orchestrate pain messages (or messages that generate enough incentive to want to create commitment to the change) as well as approach the change from the hopes, fears, and perceptions of multiple different frames of reference within the organization (e.g. - honor their perceptions of reality).
Are you in enough pain to change? Are you approaching the change from the frame of reference of many different people within your organization in order to "sell" it appropriately?
In Chapter Three Conner continues by saying that the rate of change has increased and yet people continue to operate as if this magnitude of change can be managed in the same way as it has in the past. He says that the volume, momentum, and complexity of change is accelerating at an increasing pace. He attributes this to seven fundamental issues:
In Chapter Four Conner says that managers are often not equipped to deal with the "future shock" or too much change in a short amount of time. He says that during this increased speed of change people don't stop changing, but they become less and less effective on both the job and personal fronts (e.g. - displaying dysfunctional behavior). This results in behaviors such as:
Do you ever see yourself and/or others in your organization displaying the behaviors above?
"Managing at the Speed of Change: How Resilient Managers Succeed and Prosper Where Others Fail" by Daryl Conner is a book about resiliency and how to critical it is for managing changes in organizations. With the speed of change dramatically increasing these days it is imperative that leaders build of sense of resiliency within then to not only survive, but prosper.
So what is resilience? In Chapter One, Conner defines it as "the ability to demonstrate both strength and flexibility in the face of frightening disorder and the internal guidance system people use to reorient themselves when blown off course by the winds of change." He says that resilience is a key skill that can be learned in organizations since we spend so much of our time at work and that leaders can guide their organizations through changes by helping them focus on the change being achievable.
Finally, he concludes the first chapter by saying that we each are designed to move effectively and efficiently through change at a unique pace that will allow us to absorb the major changes and this is referred to as the Speed of Change. He says that "when we assimilate less change than our optimum speed would allow then we fail to live up to our potential."
So what happens when change happens at a speed that is more than we can handle? Conner says that when people can no longer successfully face change, they begin to display dysfunctional behavior, or what he calls the Beast. The Beast is subconscious behaviors that manifest as a result of perceived negative or positive changes (e.g. - reality not meeting expectations) such as becoming distant, irritability, preoccupation, and lack of productivity. It also decreased our speed of change. The focus of this book therefore, is to offer specific information about the patterns of change and what successful (e.g. - resilient) people do to achieve their change objectives and to move past the Beast.
Are you assimilating change at the speed that you are capable of? Are you living up to your potential?
As I am going through a change in my own life (selling my home and moving) it reminds me of the 4 Cs of change that I use with my clients when they are going through a change:
What change are you going through? What step in the process are you in and what can you do to keep moving through the change process?
If you are going through a large scale change in your organization - be it a technology implementation, a change in strategy, or new legislation - there will inevitably be some resistance to from your employees. Why? Because each person reacts differently to a change, stress, or moving out of their comfort zone. There are some typical reasons, however, that employees resist change. Here are the top five:
1.They don’t know why the change is happening - if an employee does not understand why a change is happening and how it could be important for the organization as a whole they will often not accept or be resistant to the change. By making and communicating out a “case for change” employees can understand why the change is needed.
2.They don’t think that the “rewards” outweigh the “cost” - often people like to stay in their comfort zone. They want to keep doing what they are used to doing unless the benefits of the change can be made for them. With the case for change, leaders need to clearly state the benefits of the change and why the new change will be better than the old one. Then employees will begin to feel more comfortable with the change process.
3.There is not enough clarity around the change - often when there is change information is not provided as frequently or as well as is necessary. Openness and transparency are important when going through a change process. It is imperative to share information down from the leadership on why, when, and how the change is happening and keep employees informed about the progress of the change.
4.They don’t feel part of the change - If employees are not asked for feedback as part of the change process then they don’t feel part of the change, which can lead to resistance. Feedback is an integral pat in of creating buy-in and having employees feel like their input and feelings are being heard and integrated into the change process.
5.Past change efforts have failed - some employees can feel like this effort will be just like the others and therefore are not supportive of it. Communicating why this one is different and why and how it will be successful will go a long way to reassuring people as well as showing “wins” during the implementation time frame.
Are you seeing any of these behaviors exhibited from your employees during change efforts? What have you done to alleviate resistance to change in your organization?
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.