Thursday Thoughts No. 6 (9/9/21)

Workplace Resistance

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Resistance is real. It can flip a workplace culture, it can change the dynamic of a community, and it can stall progress. Change and growth in the workplace is a necessity. Without continuous growth, your organization will be left in the dust. See last week’s newsletter on Courage. Unfortunately, resistance can slow or even reverse growth and improvements. 

There are many kinds of resistance but these are the major types:

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Confusion Resistance:

This resistance isn’t always intentional. To a leader, it may appear as though your employees are resisting the latest initiative or change. It may be, however, they don’t understand the “why” or your expectations. Make sure you slow down when introducing changes so that the employees can fully understand the value and buy into the changes that are occurring. Educate, support, and keep the stakeholders informed of changes.

Passive-aggressive Resistance:

This is a cultural issue. First, have a meeting with the passive-aggressive individual(s). Find out where their resistance lies, what their misconceptions are, how you as a leader might not have been clear or explained the value behind the change. Find a way to move forward in a positive and professional manner. Be clear with your expectations that passive-aggressive behavior is NOT ok in the workplace. Regular weekly check-ins with employees might proactively diminish this passive-aggressive behavior.

Toxic Resistance:

This roots back to the hiring process. Make sure you’re asking the right questions, hiring the right people for the right job, and always do your reference checks—preferably calling a few people not listed on the individual’s reference list. Toxic individuals often don’t change even with interventions so document, coach, and work with these employees. Be careful of confirmation biases and the slow, virtually unrecognizable shift into workplace toxicity. Sometimes you don’t even know how bad it is until the employee is gone. 

Sabotage Resistance:

Red flag! Immediate action is required, drop everything, and get to the root of the problem. This fire needs to be contained! Sabotage resistance can come in the form of an individual trying to undermine you, undermine the change, or undermine the business. They can chase away your most valuable employees. 

Taking proactive steps to diminish resistance is profoundly cheaper than reacting to resistance. Be sure to spend time and energy on the front end to avoid costly measures after implementing change. Keep in mind that most, if not all of your employees, want to do a good job and they want to improve. They may be resistant to the way the change is delivered rather than the change itself. Often, when you give people the what and the why/so that, and leave the “how” to them, they are more likely to have buy-in. 

How to proactively avoid resistance:

  • Brainstorm possible fallouts before implementing change.
  • Speak to your various stakeholders to avoid pitfalls and to inform them of the improvements.
  • Get your middle management, team leaders, and other important voices at the table to be spokespeople and cheerleaders for change.
  • Create a supportive culture once the change is implemented.
  • As always, listen and empathize with your employees. If they’re on the front lines and the change impacts their job, they need to be heard. Go slow to go fast.

Are you asking yourself, “How do I do this?” I can help! laura.colbert@strategicleadersacademy.com

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