How to break down barriers to change
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How to break down barriers to change

If there’s one thing that binds us all and that also affects the current business environment, it’s the staggering pace of change that we’re all having to deal with. Not only is the technology that we’re all using evolving at a frightening pace, but the rate at which the competitive landscape is changing means that we’re all constantly affected by change.

As human beings caught up in this change, our response can often be one of stress, dis-engagement or resignation, and therefore it’s becoming increasingly important for organisations to consider the human factor as a part of the change equation, …..and more particularly, how people can be equipped to respond to change more effectively, so that as businesses we might accelerate change and capture the benefits with the least collateral damage.

So how can you do this?

We believe that for successful change to occur it is essential that you have a workforce that is actively engaged. Change has to be about so much more than managers informing and instructing. By equipping managers and leaders with coaching skills and introducing them to the idea of adopting an ‘enquiry led approach to management’, we are far more likely to get people on side. An enquiry led approach is all about asking powerful questions that evoke reflection and self awareness in an individual. Not only is it important for managers to ask these questions, but it is also important for individuals to ask questions of themselves. 

To aid managers and leaders in this approach it is useful to look at the ‘Resistance Pyramid’, a powerful model that helps them understand the commonest reasons that people appear to be resistant to change. They can then help their teams ask the most powerful questions they can, in order to overcome those barriers.

Not Knowing – this group believes that they don’t understand enough about the changes going on or how they’ll be affected.

Managers using an enquiry led approach will help these people ask questions like ‘How can I found out more?’ ‘Where can I see opportunities?’  ‘Who should I speak to?’  In this way, fear of change is broken down and awareness at least allows for people to better manage their situation.

Not Able - this group believe (or genuinely don’t have) the skills required to adapt to the change required. 

Again a manger using an enquiry led approach will get them to reflect on “What do I need to learn?” and  “Where can I go for resources?” 

Not Willing - Unfortunately you will always have a very small group of people who are simply intransigent; they have done things in a certain way for a long time and the change they are being asked to adopt is just a step too far for them. These people are what we call the ‘not willing’ and in this area we might get them to ask very different questions, such as, ‘what would have to change for me to be engaged in this?’ and ‘how would I be motivated?’

From our experience, it’s the companies whose leaders and managers model this behaviour and adjust their style of management that transition though change and see the benefits with the least collateral damage.

It sounds simple but changing deeply embedded behaviours is challenging. Luckily however, this is something that we at Notion are experts in and have worked with long list of organisation on this very subject.

For more information about implementing an enquiry led approach and successfully overcoming resistance to change, contact Notion on +44 (0)1926889885 or visit our website

Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Mon, 16 Oct 2017 1:23pm BST
    Sometimes the changes proposed are so ill thought through, or so predicated on invalid assumptions, that the only action for sane and sensible people is to resist them with every fibre of their being.
    How many readers have been through a change proposed by management, resisted it to no avail, only to find the situation reversed 5-7 years later under another management "initiative" ? Of course the reversal is always presented as anything but, and is sold as yet another innovation which we should buy into.

    It's a bit like the okey-cokey, just less fun......... and with more casualties.

    Why is that so many (vastly overpaid) management consultants never recognise this simple fact of life for so many honest, working people ?

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