I think it’s time to take it a level deeper. Understanding the behavioural implications of resistance at the conscious and sub-conscious levels can better prepare you for implementing change effectively.
On the surface, 10-20% of a group will spearhead the change and get on the bus fastest. They will drive the bus and even lift it out of ditches to move things along faster.
10-20% of a group will actively resist the change. They will block doorways, start filibusters, or simply lay their anchor out so as not to be budged.
The other 60-80% of a group will be in the middle.
When we dig deeper, we see the behaviours of supporting and restraining forces. For people above the 50th percentile (i.e. want change and are going to act on it), we see both supporting forces and restraining forces:
- Volunteer for actions that enable the change
- Speak positively about the change
- Take ownership of the change – feel personally responsible for it
- Challenge the quality of decisions without compromising progress– will help to boost the quality of decisions by debating and pushing for superior decisions.
- Will typically be subconscious, driven by fear or guilt conditioned through childhood or past experiences
- Taking actions and not getting results
- Procrastinating on actions
- Plowing through – forcing themselves to take the actions – would rather do something else
For people below the 50th percentile (i.e. don’t want change), we see mostly restraining forces:
- Speaking negatively about the change – complaining, venting, frowning
- Not volunteering for actions – sitting on the sidelines, being passive
- Sabotaging – putting up barriers and arguments against the change, or putting up a positive front while secretly building a network of detraction
- Malicious compliance - will comply allowing the change to fail based on the merits of its own weakness
In change situations, we are mostly faced with restraining forces, since only 10-20% of a group are actively pushing the change, yet for the >50th percentile we still face restraining forces.
How then do we overcome restraining forces? Here are a few tips that will get you past the hump:
- Take the time to build consensus: Consensus means taking extra time to listen, dialogue, converse and adapt. If you’re not wired to do these things, it is time to learn.
- Be specific and detailed about what needs to occur so that people understand how they can help. Change can only happen when everyone who needs to do something to make the change happen knows what they need to do, and are capable of doing it.
- Collaborate in building action plans, and take the time to hear people out on what they can do to help with change. Change is best executed when the people who have to do something get to control some degree of how they do it.
- Be aware of your own and others’ behavioural drivers (conscious/sub-conscious) – and talk to people about their behaviour.
- Be assertive – not passive, not aggressive, and not passive-aggressive. Address resistance at the source, and promptly. Be kind. Be honest. And be respectful.