Overcoming Resistance When It Counts

– and building stronger teams as a result

Resistance to change is ever present for a variety of reasons:

  • change takes time and we have customers to satisfy
  • change is risky and our customers won’t tolerate performance glitches
  • change changes the power dynamics
  • it’s just easier to stay with what I know

However, with change as the only constant, we must figure out how to effectively overcome all the reasons for not changing. Our business success depends on accomplishing this.

As she was presenting at the New Hampshire High Tech Council Women’s Power Breakfast, Sarah Hodges of Autodesk discussed yet another line of resistance and the solutions she has successfully used to overcome not just one, but all of the resistance elements

You may have had similar experiences as the beginning of her story

Newly named the Autodesk Director of the Construction Business line, Sarah inherited a highly experienced team of people. She admitted to frustration at the instant rejection of proposed changes to business offerings that proved out both on paper and for what the business line wanted to pivot toward

Not successfully working with the team was not an option

So, even while feeling she was taking a step backwards, she began meeting with the members who put up resistance and asking why:

  • Why will the plan not work?
  • What is it that you do not like and why?
  • What changes would you suggest for the plan and why?

And that was when things began to turn around.

  • Everyone was heard
  • Their experience was valued
  • And their value was not dismissed

Change is tough no matter what the circumstances. While it is tempting to push things through or go it alone, business survives on the forward momentum of the many, not the one. You do eventually need buy in from those who put up resistance. By valuing their experience and listening to their unique input in a safe environment with the intent to implement nuggets of gold that are shared, you begin the transformation toward buy in and acceptance of change.

You are also building trust and respect

And business is better for it.


Key words and concepts: change management, resistance, people, active listening, performance, transformation

About the author:

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky with Process & Strategy consults with and provides training for organizations eager to increase their competitive value through growth, aligned performance, and making and moving product (even when the product is electrons).


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