Archives#stategicplanning Archives — C. Lynn Northrup, CPA, CPIM

Why Change is Tough

March 31st, 2016

Change creates uncertainty. When you don’t know what’s going to happen it creates an uncomfortable feeling. Overcoming this reaction and sense of discomfort isn’t easy, but is part of coping with the change process. Most people will prefer to remain stuck in misery than move head long toward some unknown destination. Change creates a feeling of over what you are doing or where you are going. Decisions that are imposed on you or sudden surprises allow very little time to prepare or adjust for the consequences of what is or will be occurring.

Any decision that is imposed on you with no time to adjust or prepare will meet with resistance. It is easier to resist and say no rather than say yes to a change or new initiative. The instant reaction is what are we doing rather than why are we doing something. Digging deeper to get closer to why a change is being made why something is occurring makes for an easier transition process.

People are creatures of habit. They don’t react well to having their cheese moved. Things are going to be different, but how much different? New differences jolt us into an uncomfortable awareness that things aren’t the same and never will be again. The ability to overcome surprises and change requires a focus on what’s important and avoiding making changes for the sake of change.

Change creates something different. Anytime things are different there will be resistance because people feel a loss of face. The people responsible for what happened before the change have a perception that they were doing things wrong. This makes starting new initiatives very difficult. In these situations it is critical to provide dignity for people by celebrating elements of what worked in the past. It is also essential to facilitate a transition to the future by helping them understand that the world has changed.

Another reason people resist change is a concern about their ability to successfully make the proposed change. People will stick to what they are good at, even when they know that it is no longer relevant. Deep down they are worried that their skills will become obsolete. It is essential to invest in providing them with reassurance, ample information, education, training, mentors, and support systems to get them past resisting progress.

Change requires extra effort and more work. Recognition is the key to successfully addressing this issue. This frequently can be overcome by allowing people with time to focus exclusively on the change effort. Further, providing additional recognition with rewards and extra perks for the additional effort required will help make the transition easier.

Making changes often brings true pain. New technologies displace old ones, jobs are lost, and investments wiped out. In these situations, honesty and transparency is usually the best course of path to follow. While you can’t always make people feel comfortable with change, it might be possible to minimize the discomfort. Digging to the bottom of the sources of resistance should always be the first step toward finding good solutions. In the final analysis, what really matters is the change in people behavior and how systems are either enhanced or detract from the changed behavior.