Change is hard. Almost always. Sometimes change is harder than other times. Leadership is tested. Tensions can mount. And people are more likely to object.
It’s good to know these times before a leader approaches change. Change is necessary. In fact, while change may produce conflict, without change there will be conflict. Since change is necessary and inevitable, understanding these scenarios before we attempt change may help us lead change better.
Here are five times I’ve discovered that change is hardest to accept and implement:
1. When there hasn’t been change in a very long time. Change becomes more comfortable when it occurs regularly. When nothing has changed for a period of time, people feel even more uncomfortable and are likely to resist more. Leaders in this scenario should make smaller changes to get small wins to hopefully spur hunger for more change, or at least stretch the comfort level for change again. Ease into it.
2. When there isn’t a culture of change. Sometimes people are conditioned against change. Imagine a work environment where everyone wears the same colored pants and shirt every day. Black pants and white shirt uniforms. Remember IBM? I was raised to believe they had “uniforms” of black suits and white shirts. Apparently, they never had a policy of a strict dress code. It just sprang up as culture. Changing that culture took years. When the culture is sameness, leaders often have to address culture before they address change.
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