Change Management 102
Change Management: Overcoming Interference
Home  |   About Us  |   Services  |   Consultants  |   Search  |   Sitemap  |   Contact Us

Change Management 102: How to Overcome Interference to Change SiteMap

Change Management 102: Overcoming Interference to Change by John Antos

There are many factors that can influence how process workers approach their processes. Some of those factors cause poor productivity. Some process worker don't like to work. They are not very ambitious and only work because they need to pay the bills. Others are concerned that if they work too fast they will work themselves or their co-workers out of a job.

Others feel pressured by their coworkers not to work too fast. The author worked in a union environment one summer. He was very diligent and was very productive. After a while his coworkers stopped talking to him but did not tell him the reason. Finally a union employee told him he was working too fast. After he went back to college the other workers would have to work at this faster pace the rest of their lives. He was given a choice to either slow down or to be isolated from the group. This type of coworker pressure definitely affects productivity.

Finally some process workers don't like their boss and their perform their processes slowly to get back at their boss.

Other factors can encourage high productivity such as fear of losing one's job. some people will work hard just to keep their job. Others work hard because their boss in constantly on their case and want to avoid confrontations with their boss. In manufacturing some workers are paid based on production. Therefore they have an incentive to produce more.

These two sets of actors are constantly exerting force to either increase production or reduce production. Different factors win on different days and with different employees. Depending on the availability of other jobs, the economy, the persons own financial situation, the ambition of the person, the pressures of coworkers, etc. will determine productivity for the day, week, month or year.

Today we know that money is not the prime motivator for most people Some surveys have shown that money is ranked number '5' in terms of motivation. Some organizations don't have the money to motivate. So bosses have to use other means to motivate. Recognition, opportunities to be promoted, opportunities to learn, and being able to make a difference are often greater motivators than money especially for those people in their 20's. These approaches also cause less strain on personal relations than negative motivational factors.

Employees can quit, sabotage results, or work with little enthusiasm to show their disapproval with change. Bosses must understand what is motivating an employee to resist. If the company changes the rate of pay for producing more,  then the boss must address this negative impact or potential negative impact on the person's wages.

Financial rewards don't work as well when resistance is for non financial reasons. If change involves relocating to a new city, then financial rewards may not make up for a higher cost of living or leaving friends and family. He or his family may not like the new location, climate, schools, culture. Picture a person born in Manhattan, NY moving to a rural community. The pace is different, the availability of opera, art museums, major league baseball are all different. I did not say better, I just said different. The financial advantages and opportunities for promotion may not be sufficient to overcome living in a new community.

When people moved to Dallas for JC Penney and Exxon, they could buy a larger home and still have money left over. There was little snow, major league sports, a decent arts program, and good schools. For many people the move was a positive.

Financial Advantages

When a change can negatively impact a person's wages, then some type of guarantee or adjusting rates may keep the person on parity with his former compensation. Unions may guarantee no loss of employment. Guarantees are expensive and may not be a feasible alternative. However, partial guarantees may be appropriate. In some cases, employees must be replaced because the current employees chose not to adopt the changes.

Good Communication

Good communication involves both the sender and the receiver. The organization must send a message to why the change, how the change, the impact, and the benefits. The receiver of the communications must chose to receive the message as it was intended. Sometimes senders think they are sending one message, but receivers are receiving another message. Open ended questions such as the following are always better than simply saying to you understand. No one wants to seems stupid or not a team player. :

  • Did we answer your question
  • What are your concerns?
  • How could we explain this better?
  • What types of issues will this this change cause?
  • What issues did we not address?
  • How can we make this change better?

Those Affected Need to Decide

Those affected need to be involved with the decision making. They work on the process every day. They have great process knowledge. If they are involved buy-in will be greater because the change will be their ideas..

How to Open Employees to Change?

Employees resist change because not changing is easier both mentally and physically often. Fear of the unknown often causes them to fixate on the current way of performing processes. Working in groups often helps to loosen their rigidity because there is usually alt least one or 2 employees open to finding a better way.

Sometimes exposing the group to their competition or to other organizations performing a similar process (e.g. paying bills, preparing monthly financial statement) will loosen people to think differently. When your organization needs 15 days to prepare the monthly financial statements and other very large organizations only need 2-4 days, then at some point you have to face reality and say there must be a better way.

Entire Group Should Approve Change Not Just Change Team

If groups help design the change and then vote on accepting the change they designed, then group pressure to resist the change will be must less. In some cases a representative team works on the change rather than the entire group. It is best to take this change back to the entire group and have the team explain the reasons for the change and answer any questions. This approach will inform the team of any issues that have not been addressed and will help with buy-in of the entire group and not just the buy-in of the team working on the change.

Group Commitment Must Be Reinforced

Most people who lose weight regain that weight after a short time. Most people who have bariatric surgery where they cut out huge quantities of fat regain that fat unless they change their diet. Likewise, a single group meeting discussing change will not solve all resistance. There must be continuous feedback and support.

Even those who initially supported the change will have second thoughts when problems occur. If the change team forgot something or learning takes longer than expected or the new equipment does not work as originally thought, then resistance will arise. Group meetings to discuss the change a week, month, quarter, or year later will help. Group meetings at certain milestones like when the equipment arrives, before training, a week after training, when issues arise, etc. will help keep the positive energy flowing toward the change.

Making Compromises

My great wife of 31 years says that I am not allowed to date. This seems reasonable given how much I love her. However, this is a compromise when I made the change to get married. Likewise, when any change is made there is usually some type of compromises that have to be made. Normally, I will decide but in these situations, I still want to be able to go to the boss. Normally, I will talk with other departments to solve a cross functional process issue, but in these situations I want you my boss to resolve this issue. Normally I won't inspect the raw material from a vendor except if I had problems on the last order from the vendor. Normally I will do first piece inspection unless this production run is very similar to the last production run I just finished,

Normally I the union won't file a grievance except if the wages based on production go down more than 10%. Normally I won't file a grievance without consulting management first unless management failed to listen to and resolve my last grievance within 20 days.

Sometimes flexibility on both sides is required. If only one side is willing to give in then after awhile the other side takes the same obstinate position. Sometimes both sides will have to stand firm and not give in. However, flexibility, empathy, and openness to new ideas are important for all affected parties.

Handling Factors Important to People

Taking away our TV at lunch time or our basketball court for new offices may be very important to those deprived. Management must separate the change from from taking away from staff to needing to accomplish goals. This is best done by involving those affected in the decision. Often those affected will come up with a better solution. Sometimes they will just appreciate the chance to be involved with the decision. .

Sometimes management can exchange one factor for another. We need to reduce your basketball court but you can have a new exercise room where half of the basketball curt was. We will remove the TV from the cafeteria, but set up a small office for the small group that watches TV everyday.

All Change is Subject to Modification Including Returning to the Original Process

If everyone knows that a specific change is not permanent and that the change is always subject to modification, then employees feel more in control. Change is not like cement, it is more like Jell-O. Jell-O can be modified if necessary, cement can not be modified very easily. Anyone can offer suggestions to modify the change. The change team can reconvene at any time to modify the change.

Organizations can create a change modification schedule that complies with certain milestones in order to give the change a chance to settle. It takes time to learn a new process. The first time you rode a bike most of us were not successful. If we decided we were not capable of riding a bike on that first ride, most of us would never had ridden a bike. So milestone like a week, a month, a quarter may be created before any modifications are allowed. However, critical issues like safety and health may override these milestones.

How Quickly Should Change Occur?

In some cases change should occur quickly. As soon as the new payroll system is up and running all payroll will be processed using this new system. In other cases, change is best done gradually. We have 6 locations, and location one will pilot this change for 3 months to address any unintended issues. After the 3 month period, all other locations will use the new system. Still other times, the organization would implement change sequentially so that 6 locations would implement at the rate of one new location per month.

Competition, financial and human resources, outside consultants, etc. all affect the decision on how fast to implement change. Competition may cause the necessity of immediate change. Lack of financial and/or human resources may slow down implementation. Lack of buy-in could cause immediate or slower implementation. Each situation is different. However,  how quickly you implement change must be addressed.

Slow change could provide opportunity for sabotage along the implementation path. Slow change may also provide for modification before the entire change is implemented and have to be totally modified. Fast change could be like being hit over the head with a broom. I don't like it so I am coming out fighting the change. The human aspect of change is often more important than the change itself. The greatest change in the world without buy-in may be of little or no value.

If process workers understand the benefits of change for the organization and their employees they are more likely to accept and support change. Understand that some employees do not want to change. Then the organization must decide whether to keep them anyway, move them to a another job, or give them an opportunity to be a process worker somewhere else. .

Miscellaneous Change Management Approaches

If an organization has to hire a new manager to replace a current manager, the new manager must be himself. The new manager can not try to duplicate the style of the former manager. Likewise employees can not expect the new manager to act exactly like the old manager. Our church brought in a new financial manager who had to cut $400,000 out of a $2,000,000. Taking 20% out of any budget is difficult and caused a great deal of change. Once the economy was revived a new financial manager was brought in because of all the hard feelings toward the former cost cutting financial manager. As you might imagine, the personalities of these 2 types of managers was totally different.

As new manages are brought in because of changes, the new manager must be himself or herself. The new manager must discuss this issue with employees. The new manager should discuss their strengths and weaknesses. The new manager should ask for help and understanding on their weaknesses Some priests give great sermons but are not very good administrators. Some priest give OK sermons but are great administrators. You can imagine how staff and church members must adapt when priests change parishes every 5-10 years.

Likewise, the current manager should discuss how the new manager will be different from him or her. The current manager should discuss accepting the new manager for whom they are. The current manager should discuss how he or she has certain strengths and weakness which their staff has death with. The new manager will probably have different strengths and weaknesses and they must adapt to this new person.

Some organizations invite subordinates as well as bosses to aid in selecting a new employee. This approach helps with a smoother transition to a new manager and with support for that new manager. Having a boss, subordinate, or person being replaced explain the culture of an organization is extremely helpful. Can you imagine a potential client for teaching a seminar told me that I was not supposed to laugh when teaching nor was I supposed to tell jokes during the seminar. This organization felt work is not for laughter. You can imagine how important that was when I like to tell jokes to keep the material interesting and keep people awake.


In life we celebrate many events from birth, marriage, moving, new job, graduation, death, etc. We celebrate milestones like age 21 so we can drink, or age 67 so we can retire. We also celebrate performance milestones like when I lose 20 pounds or when I save $10,000 or when pass a test. In organizations we celebrate milestone like revenue, profit, new products, etc. Change can be a milestone. When we implemented a new computer system for our whole company in 45 days in a leverage buy out we celebrated this change. Celebration gives importance and meaning to change. Celebration gets us emotionally involved with change in addition to intellectually involved. Often times it is our emotional buy-in that is more important than our intellectual buy-in. Celebration helps to firm up our emotional buy-in. In general quicker change works better than slow drawn out change. Celebration helps bring emotionally the first stage of change to a close.

The old way should not be criticized. At some point buggy whips, slide rules, CDs, and 3.5" floppy disks were useful. Now we have cars, calculators on our cell phones, ipods, and memory fingers. It is more useful to focus on the fact that technology competition, and the world is different and require new processes as part of Process Management No matter what management technique we use whether it is quality management, performance management, lean management, etc. everyone is managing their processes. Everyone is using some form of process management regardless what they call their technique because everyone has cross functional processes. These processes continue to change. We must educate everyone that the old processes may have been appropriate at one time, but they are being replaced by newer and hopefully better processes.  

Final Thoughts

As the world gets smaller do to video conferences, TV and the internet and as change occurs at a faster rate, dealing with change becomes more important. Most managers have not been trained in change management. Ask a group of peers how many ever took a college course in change management. You will find that very few managers and executives have. Yet change is so important and if not handled properly great ideas will never get implemented properly.

Most people dislike change even change management consultants. However, just because a person dislikes taking out the garbage does not mean they do not have to take out the garbage. Some people should work for organizations where change is occurring slowly. However, most of us will be involved with organizations where competition, styles, interests, priorities, government, and technology will cause great change. The key is to get used to change and accept change. In some cities locals say if you don't like the weather just wait 4 hours and it will change. Likewise for most of us, if we just wait a short while, some type of change in customers, vendors, technology, materials, processes, equipment will occur. Just accept it. Some people accept change

  • wholeheartedly as part of life [not many]

  • only when forced to change

  • only on the surface waiting for the old way

  • only until they find a way to sabotage change

  • never and they must accept change or leave

Management must understand these various groups and deal with each groups differently. Back and forth communication where one listens to concerns and answers those concerns honestly and directly is important. Remember no one in change management is perfect nor are the changes themselves always perfect. Just do your best.

Call John Antos at 972-980-7407 to discover how to link compensation to activity based management, continuous improvement, quality, and other projects to achieve your goals.
Change & Compensation Necessary for Project Success

Have Consultant contact me


Phone: 972.980.7407 email:
Value Creation Group, Inc.
7820 Scotia Dr. #2000
Dallas, TX 75248

Change Management
Change Management 101
Change Management 102
Why Projects Fail?
Change Management  Books
Change and  Compensation
copyright 1984-2013 Value Creation Group, Inc. For additional information, click Contact Us