If you are a leader who is in the early stages of mobilising the people within your business to implement change, it’s important that you understand that all human beings are hardwired to resist change. We have five times more negative neural networks than positive ones, so we have an inbuilt ‘negativity bias’. It means that we are more likely to focus on the negative aspects of change that drive our fear in the first instance.
Isabel Briggs Myers, the developer of the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, concluded that only 5.5% of the human population innately embrace change. The rest of us seek the psychological safety of our ‘cave’ as a first instinct. Our reptilian brains trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response.
While the change we’re talking about may not mean life or death, 94.5% of us will not always rush out and embrace the emotional discomfort.
Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman proved that humans make decisions emotionally first. Attempting to overcome emotional barriers with a logical, rational argument is futile when emotions run the show 😠😀😢😫🤯😊
Mobilisation can help address these barriers by creating a richness of dialogue across the organisation at an emotional and rational level.
Fostering an environment for two-way communication between functions and different groups while also recognising the emotional turmoil that change creates will provide a more collaborative and supportive environment. With greater transparency comes greater trust, and internal resistance to change is reduced.
During periods of change, outstanding leadership is critical – many people crave trustworthy, courageous, transparent, unwavering, authentic guidance. As a leader, understanding that people respond in differing ways when faced with change is imperative.
As people process the changes, each stage has natural psychological barriers with basic needs to address. As a leader, understanding these behaviours and creating a collaborative and safe environment to collectively work through accepting the change will result in far better ‘buy in’ across the organisation which will mean greater mobilisation and much more effective implementation.
Stage 1 : DENIAL – Information
Individuals go through withdrawal and focus on the past. There is activity but not much work gets done. Address this stage with information. Let people know change will happen and why the change is needed. Wherever possible deliver in person not via email.
Stage 2 : RESISTANCE – Actively listen
In this stage, you will see anger, blame, anxiety and depression. Use active listening to effectively deal with resistance. Encourage people to express their feelings without judgement. Be open and authentic about your own feelings about the changes.
Stage 3 : EXPLORATION – Short term goals
There will be confusion, over-preparation, chaos, energy and potentially a lack of focus. To help people focus, set short term goals to channel their energy and achieve quick wins.
Stage 4 : COMMITMENT – Long term goals
In this final phase of change, the staff will start working together. You will see better cooperation and improved focus. Once you’ve reached this stage, you can start setting long term goals and looking ahead to the benefits that will occur as a result of the changes.