Are you leading the change or leading the resistance?
Leading change is a key requirement for all senior managers and it is estimated that in any organisation about 20 per cent of people are ready and willing to embrace change, 50 per cent are neutral - waiting to decide which way to lean and around 30 per cent are resisters, desperately hanging on to the status quo or deliberately trying to make the new way fail. As a leader, who do you give the most attention?
If you’re like most leaders, chances are you unwittingly subscribe to the “squeaky wheel” approach where those who complain loudest get the most attention. This relatively small group of hardcore resisters are difficult to ignore but giving them a disproportionately large slice of your attention often just reinforces their problem behaviour, causes you and the rest of your team major stress and slows down the change process. While you inadvertently become leader of the resistance the rest of your people are left to flounder and it takes them longer to move through the change cycle.
As a change leader, it makes more sense to focus your attention on those 20 percent of advocates who are up for change and engage them in influencing the 50 percent of fence-sitters whom you need to win over.
Remember, it is not essential that you have buy-in from everyone to move forward. For a good percentage of people, buy-in comes later after the results are in. For others I think this quote from John Peers sums it up nicely: “The squeaky wheel doesn't always get greased; it often gets replaced.”
Like change itself, resistance is predictable, inevitable and even necessary but you need to consider what resistance is reasonable and deal with it appropriately. Don’t fuel the resistance by pouring grease on your squeaky wheels!
If you're leading a change initiative and need a hand, send me an email.