Aug 122014

Change. Why Is It So Difficult For So Many?

For some, change is readily accepted; for others, resistance is the norm.

At our annual conference last month, the leadership of the National Speakers Association announced a rebranding effort. The most visible aspect was the name change to “Platform.” I am sure they spent a considerable amount of time and resources to develop the new brand, but the announcement certainly caught everyone by surprise.

For many it was a welcome change, but based on the emails and videos sent out from the leadership team almost immediately after the announcement, it appears that many of our members are resistant. Now it appears they must spend more time and effort to rethink their intentions and quell the uprising.

Organizations don’t just change because systems change. Organizations change because people within them have made personal decisions to change. Only then can the organization reap the benefits of change.

When dealing with people, the challenge is to help and support those within the organization. Change—even something as simple as a name change—can be traumatic, especially for long-term members who have grown up with the name and brand of the National Speakers Association.
An article in Mind Tools™ mentions the following four stages people typically go through as they adjust to change:

  1. The initial reaction may be shock or denial as they react to a change from the status quo. Once reality starts to hit, they tend to react negatively and move to the second stage.
  2. They may feel angry, fear the impact, and actively resist or protest the change. Some wrongly fear negative consequences or identify threats to their position. At this stage the organization may experience disruption, which can easily spiral into chaos.
  3. Then people stop focusing on what they lost. They start to let go and accept the change. They accept what is good and not so good and learn to adapt.
  4. In the final stage they accept the change and can start to embrace it.

Once people get to the final stage, the organization can start to reap the benefits. I suspect the National Speakers Association is in the process of getting members from Stage 1 to Stage 2. The turning point is Stage 3, when it will come out of the danger zone. I am sure they will be successful in minimizing the impact and help people adapt more quickly. Getting members through this transition is critical. Something as simple as an Impact Analysis may have given more insight as to the consequences of the decision.

We have to be aware that the world changes; we have to change as well. As the pace of change continues to increase, an organization’s change capability will become a greater requirement for sustainable performance. Organizations that have stayed stagnant and resisted change are no longer with us; they typically die a slow death. Organizations that are investing in change capabilities are more likely to capitalize on future opportunities.

Is your organization one of them?

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