In the recent article Choosing to Be Skillful with Change, I explored how to approach change in a new way that is more skillful so you can create better results. One way to become more skillful is to begin to notice when/if people are actually resisting change they are faced with. There are many subtle and not-so-subtle ways that people resist change even when they think it’s a good idea, seem to be on board with it and will benefit from it.
In my experience, both with clients and for myself, many of the signs are actual more subtle than we may imagine. In fact, they may even be unconscious strategies to deal with the potential stress and pressure of change. When they are unconscious, it’s difficult to recognize that they may be driving our behavior yet they profoundly do. They can create miscommunication, conflict, delays, lower productivity and lack of engagement. Yet, may remain “hidden causes” to ourselves and others.
Let’s explore the five signs that you or your team may be resisting change so you can better address concerns and move forward.
The five subtle signs include:
Confusion - Being unclear about the goals, requirements or plan (even when a solid plan has been developed and communicated).
Doubt - Constantly questioning what is happening and why it’s happening (even when the approach and strategy have been discussed numerous times).
Impatience - A sense of restlessness and pushing that becomes counterproductive to the change you are trying to create.
Distraction - Inability to focus, “stay the course” and work through all the logistics required to be successful at change.
Delay - Ongoing delays to decision-making and action-taking that slow down the process and reduce chances of successful change.
So, now that you are aware of the five subtle signs that indicate resistance to change, you have an opportunity to get curious about your own or others’ behavior and explore what is needed to move through the resistance to change. Bring this awareness into the Weekly Uplevel Practice below so you can begin to actively work with resistance in a transformative way rather than ignoring it or pushing against it. If you would like assistance identifying and/or addressing these signs, please contact us to discuss further.
Weekly Uplevel Practice
In the upcoming week, choose an upcoming change you or your team are facing then begin to notice if/when these subtle signs may show up in a conversation or a team meeting.
Focus on one change and one sign then ask yourself these questions:
How is this sign manifesting in this process of change (i.e. late for meetings, always complaining, unprepared, etc.)?
What could be their concern with the change? How will I better understand that?
What do I or my team members need to be successful with the upcoming change (keep in mind the particular signs that may be exhibited, they will give you clues about what is needed)?
I recently went through this exercise with a client and realized that the sign he was seeing with his team was “doubt” and it was manifesting as the team asking questions again and again that had already been addressed. When we explored what the “concern” was under that behavior, we found that they didn’t actually believe they could hit the timeline that they had committed to. So, we put together a plan to discuss the timeline in their next meeting, chart it out, help them see how it was attainable and address their issues, there was a significant shift in their mood and the doubt began to dissipate.