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How To Overcome Resistance To Change
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By Ken Blanchard

Habit is habit, and not to be flung
out of the window by any man, but
coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
--Mark Twain

Change. We may not like it, but it is happening all around us. For most of us, it is uncomfortable and threatening. What are the best ways for companies to deal with the natural opposition to change?

Prepare the ground.

According to William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, when management introduces change, it needs to provide employees with the four P's: the Purpose (the reasons behind the change), the Picture (of the expected outcome), the Plan (how to get there from here), and the
Part they will play.

Change champions.

Many firms find it helpful to appoint a person to be in charge of the change, to act as an overseer and organizer. This person should really want the change and be in a position of authority. "The key," according to CEO Peter Holdt, "is for the top guy to start it and keep after it like a watchdog, not only to advance the concept but to keep it from being undermined." People must see that the CEO is totally committed before they fully buy into new procedures. Then make sure your top managers are behind you, spreading the word and firing up the troops."

Involve everyone.

Transition monitoring teams can also be valuable. They should be made up of seven to 12 people, depending on the size of the firm, and represent as wide a cross-section of functions and management levels as possible.

The team's purpose is to let management know how the transition is going, what employees are thinking, and where the problems are. Sometimes you can co-opt strong opponents of change by putting them on this team.

You can also win support by holding regular no-holds-barred up-date meetings, offering seminars on how to deal with change, and providing new incentives.

At C&S Wholesale Grocers in Vermont, a new program was launched linking pay directly to performance. The employees were asked to determine "reasonable levels of performance," says George McGraw, Vice President of Distribution. "Together with management, they established new performance standards for themselves, which were well above what they were achieving at the time. Each department has already exceeded those original goals."


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