When discussing, business people often advise others to “not take it personally”, however when dealing with change in business it may be worth taking a second look to see if in fact the issues with change resistance are indeed personal. What you may find is that the reason an organization has resistance to change is often related to the people within the company.

To fully understand this phenomenon, you need to first understand a concept from Change Management of resistance to change and how people are categorized. Think of a triangle with a wide base, now let’s divide that triangle into horizontal thirds. This is a good representation of how people within a typical organization approach change.

  • The base layer is the first third – the majority of people within an organization will likely fall into this category where they are simply “unaware” of the change. This is a group that is typically easy to shift in the direction you are looking to go simply by sharing information on the change with them.
  • The next third is the mid-section of the triangle – this represents a group of people that are considered “unable” to change. This group is easily shifted by providing the necessary Change Management training to develop the skills needed to embrace the change. Once they receive training, their resistance typically drops.
  • The final third is the top of the triangle – this represents a small group of people who are “unwilling” to change. This group is generally resistant to change overall, and is reluctant to the change. This is the group that you need to focus on when deciding if change is indeed personal.

Some clues that you have people in that top third are hearing statements such as, “It’s hard to get things done in this organization” or “Nothing happens fast around here”. Statements such as these often reflect the culture of the organization, and if many of the key players within the organization are in that “unwilling” category, you will find that your culture may be that of resistance. However, don’t mistake a culture of resistance to mean that a business is resistant to change. In this case a “change resistant business” is only an artificial barrier and behind this, you would find people within the organization who are actually the ones who are resistant to change.

When I’ve done Change Assessments with organizations, we try to break through that artificial barrier and look at the individuals within the organization to determine their resistance to change. This gives you the most honest picture of how your company approaches change and what you need to do to overcome that resistance. Remember, when it comes to change in business, it is always personal.

Learn more with Acuity Institute’s Change Management Certification.

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