I recently had a conversation with a business leader that was frustrated with the desperately low return on change effort in her business.
We know that the typical approach to change management should create the awareness of the purpose for change and the desire to participate and support change. Moving through a transition state requires the knowledge on how to change and the ability to behave accordingly. Despite the reinforcement designed to sustain the change effort, resistance to change and regression remains prevalent.
We also know that change management needs to re-align those aspect that make up a business. If you change structure, you needs to ensure that your strategic execution and supporting systems align as well as your staff complement with their requisite skills. Shared values and management styles may require revisiting if the superordinate change goals are to be met. We know this.
However, change management efforts are frustrated when change is regarded as purely logical and system oriented. Even when we refer to people change management, it is regarded as a methodical process and stalls.
Kegan and Lahey (The Real Reason People Won’t Change. Harvard Business Review, attached) suggest that resistance to change does not reflect opposition, nor is it merely a result of inertia. Instead, even as they [those impacted by change] hold a sincere commitment to change, many people are unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden competing commitment [and this includes change managers themselves]. The resulting dynamic equilibrium stalls the effort in what looks like resistance but is in fact a kind of personal immunity to change.
Change is as much an emotional transition as it is a cognitive one.