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Mistrust, resistance, and disengagement
It seems that we often get far less than we pay for. We prepare for change and pay the price, but the outcomes are often worse than expected. They cost more and take longer to achieve than we planned. Instead of a smooth road to success, we encounter mistrust, resistance, and disengagement from workers who don’t support the change. We even end up with more disruption, having to replace employees who leave because of the change. And on top of all this, there’s a real risk that change could do long-term damage to the organisation’s culture.
Change presents similar problems in our personal lives. We have goals and ambitions, but it’s hard to succeed and many people just lose hope and give up. But we can’t succeed if we won’t get uncomfortable, step outside our comfort zone, deal with uncertainty and complexity, and grow. Success is not easily won. If we give up too soon, we lose.
The real problem
So, what is the real problem here? Is the problem that there’s too much change? Hey, this is the 21st century – change isn’t going anywhere. No, the problem is with us – as individuals and as organisations. We’re just not that good at handling change.
Most people don’t like change that much – and the reason why might surprise you. It’s because they lack change fitness. Just think about that for a moment. Say you were physically unfit. Would you be resistant and disengaged if you were forced to carry a heavy load up a steep hill? If you’re anything like me, you’d be whinging and complaining about it – not a ‘team player’. It’s the same with change. We can force people into change, but if they lack the fitness for it, they will resist and complain. No amount of pep talks will change that.
And organisations don’t fare any better. According to a recent Optus study, three quarters of Australian businesses are not ready for change. Not really all that surprising when organisations consist of people – many of whom don’t handle change very well.
Low change readiness might not be a problem if change happened slowly. But we all know it doesn’t. Low change readiness adds to the costs of change, compromises outcomes, and adds to risk. It isn’t something to be proud of.
The problem is that people and organisations aren’t ready to succeed at change.