Overcome Resistance to Change for Success as a CM Leader

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In her Personality Matters series, Leslie Sachs examines the personalities and people issues that are found in technology groups from cross-functional, high-performance teams to dysfunctional matrix organizations.

Summary:
Some people just don't wanna change...but change is essential. Change is essential. Insanity has often been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and yet expecting the results to be different. If approaching a problem in a particular way is not working, then you need to consider changing how you're doing things. Although Greek philosophers were well aware that change is a permanent characteristic of the universe, it is certainly true that recent generations have seen the most rapid transformations in the shortest time spans. The reality is that only the most adaptive individuals can be successful leaders in the world as we know it today.

Yet, despite this obvious reality, some people will resist any and all threatened change. Often, these individuals do not even realize that change makes them anxious and interferes with their productivity.

People get very creative when they do not want to accept change
The dynamics can get very complex when people start resisting change and some professionals may begin to exhibit behavior that is anything but collegial.

So why DO people resist?

Fear of the unknown
People can get very nervous when confronted with pending change because many changes have no guarranteed outcome. Even when a specific proposal is selected because of some desired result, seasoned professionals know that "unintended consequences" often accompany the actual goal. It takes a very confident employee to embrace change while accepting the uncertainty that is a necessary component of doings things differently. Look for the employee who has a "high need for novel experiences" to generate enthusiasm for new ideas and programs your firm may be considering.

Loss of power
People can also get very anxious over what they perceive to be threats to their own base of power. Psychologists have long known that one's sense of control of their own fate is a critical factor in job satisfaction. If an employee believes that suggested changes in their organization will result in their having less control, they will usually resist such adaptaions to the status quo. Resistance of this type may be active & overt or, as is more common, may surface in subtle, passive-aggressive ways.

Not invented here syndrome
There is a certain personality type that just cannot tolerate outside direction. These individuals do not mind change per se. They simply need to feel that they were the primary force driving new initiatives. Including these people early on in planning and allowing them to be an important part of the implementation is key to eliciting their support and minimizing any potential resistance.

Becoming a change agent
Effective managers know that change is not only inevitable, but is also quite valuable. Successful CM leaders know how to handle a myriad of  common resistance behaviors. Sometimes employees do not even realize they are resisting change and it is wiser to work around their anxiety than provoke confrontation.At other times, a more direct approach addressing specific behaviors which impede progress is called for. Sensitivity to personalities and experience are the tools a skilled manager will utilize to move his team along the path of change. Of course, modeling a positive attitude is also a key factor in encouraging employees to embrace needed adjustments in the workplace.

Conclusion
Change may be constant, but it is not necessarily welcome. The savvy IT manager knows that human nature frequently resists change for any number of reasons. CM professionals have to deal with issues of resistance on a regular basis as their discipline requires a particularly high degree of adaptability. Insightful and creative leaders know how to parlay an understanding of personality into specific strategies for overcoming resistance to change so that their teams can keep moving forward.

About the author

Leslie  Sachs's picture Leslie Sachs

Leslie Sachs is a New York state certified school psychologist and the COO of Yellow Spider, Inc. (http://yellowspiderinc.com). Leslie is the coauthor of Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World, Addison-Wesley Professional (http://cmbestpractices.com). Ms. Sachs has more than twenty years of experience in the psychology field and has worked in a variety of clinical and business settings where she has provided many effective interventions designed to improve the social and educational functioning of both individuals and groups. Ms. Sachs has an M.S. in School Psychology from Pace University and interned in Bellevue's Psychiatric Center in New York city. A firm believer in the uniqueness of every individual, she has recently done advanced training with Mel Levine's "All Kinds of Minds" Institute. She may be reached at LeslieASachs@gmail.com, or link with her http://www.linkedin.com/in/lesliesachs.

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