When there is a project that needs a change in organization, in procedures or in the way things are done, it’s not always easy that everything goes as planned. One of the main reasons is what is called resistance to change, a natural reaction that makes people reject changes in their environment.
Resistance to change is present in life and in business, and even in golf. Think about a golfer that wants to improve his swing and hires a teacher to have some golf lessons at the driving range. He tells the teacher what he is looking for and classes begin, but many times the student golfer does not always do what the teachers tells him and, sometimes, he thinks that he is not being understood, because his swing needs a different remedy.
We have all seen someone rejecting a change suggested by an expert. In some cases, it could really be that the teacher is not paying attention to the student’s needs, but most of the time it’s all about resistance to change. It’s that easy, for different reasons, people usually reject an expert’s opinion on how things should be done. Depending on the profile of the person concerned, a different approach to change must be adopted. Some people are more open to change and suggestions than other, for those, a proposition will work better than an imposition. On the other hand, some people are more comfortable taking orders, like in the army, being forced to perform a task according to defined guidelines.
It must be taken in consideration that resistance to change has more effect in projects that have no visible support from the corporation. In the golf classes example, it would be like if the player would not be committed to improving his swing and, therefore, there is nothing the teacher could do to make him effectively improve. It’s the golfer who has to be willing to change his swing, not only with classes, but with all the hours of training needed and the constant will to succeed. This support factor from the corporation is key when managing change, at least if you don’t want to fail at any project that involves doing things a different way.
It’s quite usual that people with better knowhow and years developing a task present greater resistance to change. The young golfer, who keeps alive the passion for golf, is usually more willing to improve his swing than those that just play fun. You may have heard the phrase “Don’t tell me how to do my work, I have been doing it this way for X years”. An expert golfer is usually more reluctant to change his swing than a young one, who is willing to improve. The same happens in business.
A good change manager will know how to adapt to the needs of each person, treating each case with the care required. Sometimes discipline and training may be needed to achieve an improvement in a procedure, whether some other times explaining the reasons that led to change in a more casual environment could be enough. In golf, some changes are better done in the driving range, and some others work better in the 19th hole.