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Don’t Dismiss Critics of Change

I just read a great e-mail from the Harvard Business Review ( www.hbr.org ) about how to deal with employees/teammates that are resistant to change.

We all know that change – constant improvement – is critical in the fast moving business world we are all operating in. In an effort to improve/upgrade/compete/move forward (the list can go on) we can become captive to a mindset that change is necessary and any resistance is a barrier to success.

This “change at all cost” thinking can be hazardous to your business because you can drown out the voices of reason who are trying to help. It is best to slow down and listen to their concerns with as open a mind as you listen to those proposing change. The benefits are obvious – avoidance of potential harmful changes.

I learned this lesson multiple times in owning a business that I purchased two years ago. When I started I knew that the business model was broken but I took a slower more methodical approach where I spent the entire first year completely understanding the business and its history. All the changes then took place in the second year.

The results have been very good. I am convinced that I would not achieved my current level of success had I taken a change at all cost mentality. I owe a debt of gratitude to several key members on my team for providing me with a devil’s advocate counter opinion to my proposed slate of changes. By listening and understanding their concerns we have been able to make the big changes that I had envisioned.

Here is the HBR article:
July 24, 2012

Don’t Dismiss Critics of Change

Not everyone will be excited about change. People who resist are often perceived as inflexible obstacles to overcome. But don’t think of them simply as barriers to success. While some people do undermine change efforts, it is shortsighted to think everyone will, or even want to. Try to understand why people are resistant. Ask what they are concerned about and listen to their criticism. Doing so may uncover valid concerns that need to be addressed. Put everyone’s perspectives to use and make resisters a part of the solution.
Adapted from the Harvard ManageMentor Online Module: Change Management.