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Making Change Work: Limit Resistance to Get Positive Results

By Mark Hordes

People don’t return phone calls. Leaders say “yes” but don’t follow up on their commitments. Good people leave. There are too many priorities to address change now. The time is not right. It costs too much! The cost of ignorance can be high.

Resistance to change is ever present and not new. We all understand during times of organizational stress and change there can be positive and negative resistance.

Managing change is the result of five elements that occur in an organization within functional areas at the individual, team and divisional level of relationship:

  1. Control. During times of change, employees need to feel comfortable having control over what is going to happen.
  2. Predictability. Employees need to understand the timeline for the change and when key events will occur. This allows people to have time to plan and helps them prepare for the new challenge.
  3. Capacity. Organizations need to consider capacity and personal absorption levels. People have limitations to the amount of change they can experience at one time. An individual’s personal threshold is usually no more than three change initiatives.
  4. Context. Context for the change revolves around internal and external issues. With transformations, many things change within internal departments. Internally, our roles and responsibilities may shift from an individual doing a singular job to one who now has responsibility to coach and be part of a self-managed team that has a new focus where everyone is responsible for developing multiple skills and jobs.
  5. Level of resolve. It is very possible to increase our personal level of resolve during times of change. This is accomplished by first understanding we are personally affected by change. Providing training on change fundamentals and how each of us deals with changes on personal and professional levels helps increase our resolve in effectively man- aging the change.

In most change efforts, a predicable drop- off in performance occurs. The response is a natural reaction to major change. The goal of change management is to reduce the depth and duration of the performance gap.  One can assume when we start a new project there is a steady state. As soon as the process begins, there is a performance drop, often due to employees waiting to find out the impacts of change on them.  Those responsible for leading change can minimize the impact of change on performance by looking for opportunities to manage the pre-transition and post-implementation phases.

The objectives of each transition phase are:

• Minimize A: Duration of performance drop-off during transition phase.

• Minimize B: Depth of performance drop-off during transition phase.

• Maximize C: Performance level after implementation.

• Maximize D: Continuous improvement.

To set the stage for successful program management, pay considerable attention to planning and pre-implementation activities (in effect, minimizing A and B). Before the implementation, conduct a change impact analysis to minimize the depth and ensure a faster recovery from the drop in performance.

In reflecting on major change experiences at the forefront of various major transformational efforts, several best practices in change management have emerged, including:

• Conduct an organizational and business process impact analysis prior to developing and implementing a change plan. • Develop a sponsor strategy along with the activities sponsors will do.

• Develop an ownership and involvement plan. Roll out the process through the organization.

• Create an implementation strategy that includes components such as a job redesign strategy, training plan, documentation strategy, communications plan, and an implementation and support plan.

• Create a measurement plan utilizing a balanced score card matrix. “The thing executives fear the most is the threat of rapid destabilization. The second is the complexity of successfully handling change,” says Lance Berger in “Mastering the Change Management Market: Achieving a Lasting Competitive Advantage.”

Remember, if you don’t manage change, change will manage you! Be a proactive catalyst for change, not a reactive casualty of it.

For more information, contact Mark Hordes at mark.hordes@molten-  or visit

Mark will be hosting a free webinar for HRDQ-U on October 1st at 2PM ET called Creating Change Management Capability: Experience Success.  Register here to reserve your spot today.

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