How to overcome resistance to change and what to learn from it

One day we were happy, proud of the work done and the trust our clients give us, and the next day an unexpected crisis confronted us with a fearsome and unknown scenario. Authorities around the world decreed the closure of public establishments, set off health alarms and life literally changed from one day to the next.

No one, absolutely no one, was left unaware of this atypical situation caused by COVID-19. Older adults, due to the high risk of contagion, were confined to confinement. Children and young people left the classrooms of schools and universities and had to adapt to a new learning style, through digital channels. And work has also changed.

That trend that we knew as homework or telecommuting, which was already a regular practice in some companies like Google, became the daily bread for everyone. Regardless of what your role was in the workplace, regardless of your level of knowledge, experience, regardless of your position, we all had to adapt to the new and abnormal conditions.

A few days passed before the psychological blow was overcome. A virus that we saw far, far away, in the hitherto unknown city of Wuhan, capital of the Hubei province in China, suddenly installed in our life. And not only did it force us to change the routine we had and acquire extreme care habits, but it also filled us with panic.

En IOCA Group, as in hundreds of thousands of companies in the world, the world came crashing down on us. Our operation was one hundred percent physical, face-to-face, and the truth was that we were lagging behind on the Internet issue, late in making the move to digital. Today, almost three years later, we know that we are winning the battle, that we have passed the test.

A long and difficult that has not ended, we know, but that gave us the opportunity to bring out the best in each of the members of this great family. and the best we are as a company. By force, forced by circumstances, we had to face a drastic change. We know that this is not over, that there are more challenges, other exciting challenges.

We face one of the most complex realities for any organization: resistance to change. It is something common in all human beings, that when we feel comfortable in some situation or circumstance we do not want to leave it. However, we forget that the dynamics of life is change, it is something that we cannot avoid or ignore.

Resistance to change is caused by one of the factors. First, the fear of the unknown, of entering unfamiliar universes and in which the fear of failure is on the surface. Second, the aversion to changing what is comfortable and habitual for us, which also implies stopping doing things that we liked and implementing others that are perhaps not so comfortable.

There are two ways to resist change. one passively, that is, without express manifestations. A permanent bad gesture, the reluctance to participate and contribute to the discussions and decisions of the group, the reluctance to implement the established changes. These are attitudes that generate a bad work environment and that also translate into a drop in productivity.

There is also the active way, that is, manifest actions through voices of protest or open denials. These are understandable behaviors. but not acceptable within an organization. Fortunately, we did not face this fearsome enemy because we have the unrestricted support of our team, which supported each of the decisions made.

5 lessons learned that will help you overcome your resistance to change

1.- Resistance is inevitable.
It is inherent to the human being, so we cannot eliminate it. And it doesn't make sense to see her as an invincible enemy either, because she isn't. The key is to involve people, who do not feel excluded from the change process, who do not see it as something imposed. Listening to their fears, their expectations and their desires contributes positively to moving forward without resistance.

2.- Define clear objectives.
The natural fear that a change provokes, especially when the process is carried out in an environment of uncertainty such as that caused by COVID-19, dissipates with certainty. What is persecuted? Where do we want to go? What is expected of each? What are the risks faced? What benefits will be obtained once the planned objectives are met?

3.- Establish clear actions.
The objectives are the first step, but they must be supported by an action plan that does not raise doubts. A plan that must involve all members of the organization, so that no one feels excluded, so that everyone feels important. Actions in the short, medium and long term, which are measurable. It is not about defining what to do, but also how to do it.

4.- Encourage participation.
Of course, it is easier in small and medium-sized companies, but it can not be an obstacle. It is not possible to ask an employee for commitment when they do not feel part of the process. The sense of belonging is one of the pillars of a successful company and it is crucial when the greatest difficulties appear in the process. In these moments, "union is strength".

5.- Open and honest communication.
Promoting effective communication channels between the different organizational levels is an essential task, especially in times of crisis. This strategy avoids the spread of versions, misunderstandings and confusion that generate noise and can derail the process. Good communication understood both as broadcasting and, above all, listening.

The 5 attitudes and behaviors that fuel resistance to change

1.- Negative leadership.
What the heads of the organization say and, above all, what they do determine the direction of the process. The fundamental thing is coherence, that there is agreement between what is said and what is done, because otherwise doubts will be generated and it will give way to fear and uncertainty. A negative leader, even at the mid-level, can upset the majority objective.

2.- Excess work.
In times of crisis, when staff cuts are inevitable, it is common for there to be an overload of work. This, coupled with fear and uncertainty, resistance to change and poor communication, can be a ticking time bomb. The usual strategies are often not effective in critical periods, so you have to use creativity.

3.- Lack of motivation.
When there are no clear guidelines, when communication is not fluid or is not perceived as honest, When the employee does not feel involved in the process, the natural consequence is loss of motivation. Do not underestimate it, because this behavior is simply the first step in a long chain of evils. Everything possible must be done to eradicate it.

4.- Impossibility to grow.
Another enemy that cannot be looked at sideways. When employees perceive that there are no possibilities for personal and, especially, professional growth within an organization, they stagnate. Nothing healthier than providing opportunities, offering incentives, rewarding not only results, but also the positive attitude that spreads to others and drives the company.

5.- The survivor syndrome.
When uncertainty and fear are allowed to reign in an organization, the environment becomes toxic. Although in times of crisis it is impossible to guarantee the permanence of anyone in a company, the worst that can happen is that every day the anxiety, dissatisfaction, lack of incentives and stress become habitual. That, without a doubt, is the beginning of the end.

There are no perfect formulas, of course. Each company is a different world, a unique universe and, therefore, must create its own rules. That, without a doubt, is one of the most interesting characteristics of the change process. In IOCA Group We understood, in light of the experience of other organizations, that success is the reward that those who take risks receive.

When the authorities decreed the closure of public establishments, when confinement was ordered, we thought the worst, we feared the worst. Nevertheless, we make good decisions: the first, not to give up; the second, work together to get ahead. In those we are, proud of what we do, ready to continue helping our customers.

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