In warfare, resistance presents a dangerous opposition. It is hard to know how strong it is and where it will fight. Any estimates on the resources held by the resistance are speculative. When the resistance goes underground, it is dedicated to overthrowing the voice of authority.
Project managers and change agents, don’t let your resistance go underground. If you are trying to change something, you can be sure that there will be opposition. Keep the opposition friendly keep them engaged, keep them where you can see them. Having opposition is a healthier outcome for you and your clients.
When the resistance is in the underground then:
- the resistance sees you as the enemy.
- You will be caught by surprise.
- You will never know who is a member of the opposition.
- The resistance will say things about you that you cannot refute (possibly because you never actually said those things.)
- You will sense of unease when you walk through your organization. Conversations will stop, and you will wonder – are they part of the underground?
When the resistance is above ground, then:
- You may be able to have a conversation with the resistance.
- You will know what is going on – less chance for surprise.
- You will be able to assign faces and names to those who resist you.
- The resistance may have to have a conversation with you about the things they say. You get the chance to respond to things that are not true.
- You can walk through the organization without feeling that some topics are too secret to discuss.
How do you keep the resistance from going underground?
Invite the opposition to the table. Spend time exchanging ideas. Treat the other side as friendly allies. Ask them to help you succeed for the benefit of everybody.
Talk frankly about the change process. Ask for help! You want to reduce the misery associated with a change, and to get through any aggravation as fast as possible. Be a leader in exchanging ideas.
Find out who may be hurt by the change. Understand what other people are going through, and have individual discussions. Don’t be intimidating and don’t be rushed. Let the other side know-you care what happens to them.
Be honest. You can’t make everything nice for people going to change. There will be some disruptions. You cannot change the fact that change often hurts. Nevertheless, make it your priority to share “everybody will get through this.” Follow-up with real actions that show your commitment.
Achieve your early wins. Get something meaningful done with you change process. Work with the resistance to celebrate what you have achieved together. Let people know you appreciate them, and the resistance will start to dissolve – probably slowly but with a lot less opposition.
Don’t let your resistance go underground. Treat them as an honored part of your working team. You have a greater chance to keep everyone working on the change process. If you know who the resistance is.
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Watch “Questions to Change Your Life” http://youtu.be/xCG3UjeOVAc