Resistance to Change - Why it Matters and What to Do About It Nearly two-thirds of all major changes in organizations fail. That's pretty sobering information.
Did you know that:
* only about 30 percent of reengineering projects succeed * 23 percent of mergers make back their costs * 43 percent of quality improvement efforts are worth the effort * 9 percent of major software applications are worth what you pay for them
Fortune 500 executives said that resistance was the primary reason changes failed. And 80 percent of the chief information officers said that resistance - not a lack of technical skills or resources - was the main reason why technology projects failed. It's that soft, touchy-feely, human reaction of resistance that matters.
But these statistics are only partly right. Resistance is not the primary reason why changes fail. The real problem is that leaders plan and roll out major changes in ways that create inertia, apathy, and opposition.
For example, an executive announces that the company will restructure starting next week. Employees and middle managers begin to resist. As the project unfolds, executives see resistance appear in many forms - malicious compliance, in-your-face arguments, even sabotage. The executives respond by pushing the change even harder. Then they make demands. Employees redouble their opposition and the change ends up either failing or going far over budget and way past deadlines.
Does this scenario sound at all familiar to you? If so, you're not alone. Here are some things to consider. You've Got to Know What Creates Resistance to Change
Resistance is in the eye of the beholder. The people resisting don't see what they are doing as resistance - they often see it as survival.
Resistance to change is a reaction to the way a change is being led. There are no born "resistors" out there waiting to ruin otherwise perfect plans. People resist in response to something.
Resistance protects people from harm. If I'm a novice downhill skier, it's resistance that keeps me from taking the chair lift to the top of Bodycast Mountain. In an organization, resistance keeps me from saying "yes" to an assignment that I think will kill my career. After all, people aren't dopes.
The better we are at seeing what causes resistance, the easier it will be to build support for our ideas. In other words, if we understand resistance, we also understand the other side of that coin - support for change.
There are three levels of resistance.
Level 1 - I Don't Get It
Level 1 involves information: facts, figures, ideas. It is the world of thinking and rational action. It is the world of presentations, diagrams, and logical arguments.
Level 1 may come from . . .
* Lack of information * Disagreement with data * Lack of exposure to critical information * Confusion over what it means
Many make the mistake of treating all resistance as if it were Level 1. Well-meaning leaders give people more information - hold more meetings, and make more PowerPoint presentations - when, in fact, something completely different is called for. And that's where Levels 2 and 3 come in.
Level 2 - I Don't Like It
Level 2 is an emotional reaction to the change. Blood pressure rises, adrenaline flows, pulse increases. It is based on fear: People are afraid that this change will cause them to lose face, status, control - maybe even their jobs.
Level 2 is not soft stuff. You can't say, "Just get over it," and expect people to say, "Wow, thanks, I needed that." Level 2 runs deep. When it kicks in, we can feel like our very survival is at stake.
When Level 2 is active, it makes communicating change very difficult. When adrenaline shoots through our system, we move into fight-or-flight mode (or we freeze, like a deer in the headlights). And we stop listening. So no matter how terrific your presentation is, once people hear "downsizing" their minds (and bodies) go elsewhere. And this is uncontrollable. They are not choosing to ignore you, it's just that they've got more important things on their minds - like their own survival.
Organizations usually don't encourage people to respond emotionally, so employees limit their questions and comments to Level 1 issues. They ask polite questions about budgets and timelines. So it may appear that they are with you, but they're not. They are asking Level 1 questions while hoping that you'll read between the lines and speak to their fears. And here is a really tricky part - they may not even be aware that they are operating on such a basic emotional level.
Level 3 - I Don't Like You
So maybe they like you, but they don't trust you - or don't have confidence in your leadership. That's a hard pill to swallow, I know. But lack of attention to Level 3 is a major reason why resistance flourishes and changes fail. And it is seldom talked about. Books on change talk about strategies and plans (all good stuff, to be sure) but most of this advice fails to recognize a major reason why change fails.
In Level 3 resistance, people are not resisting the idea - in fact, they may love the change you are presenting - they are resisting you. Maybe their history with you makes them wary. Perhaps they are afraid that this will be "a flavor of the month" like so many other changes, or that you won't have the courage to make the hard decisions to see this through.
But maybe its not you. People may resist those you represent. The statement, "Hi, I'm from headquarters, I'm here to help," often leaves people skeptical. If you happen to be that person from headquarters, you're going to have a hard time getting people to listen to you.
Whatever the reasons for this deeply entrenched resistance, you can't afford to ignore it.
People may understand the idea you are suggesting (Level 1), and they may even have a good feeling about the possibilities of this change (Level 2) - but they won't go along if they don't trust you. How You Can Turn Resistance Into Support
Here are a few ideas to get you started addressing the various levels of resistance. And remember, all three levels could be in play simultaneously.
Level 1 - Make Your Case
* Make sure people know why a change is needed. Before you talk about how you want to do things, explain why something must be done. * Present the change using language they understand. If your audience isn't made up of financial specialists, then detailed charts showing a lot of sophistical analysis of the numbers will be lost on them. * Find multiple ways to make your case. People take in information in different ways. Some like to hear things. Others like to see things. Some like pictures. Others text. Some learn best in conversation. The more variety in the communication channels, the greater the chance that people will get what you have to say.
Level 2 - Remove as Much of the Fear as You Can - and Increase the Excitement about What's Positive About the Change
* Emphasize what's in it for them. People need to believe that the change will serve them in some way. For example, work will be easier, relationships will improve, career opportunities will open up, or job security will increase. * Get them engaged in the process. People tend to support things they have a hand in building. * Be honest. If a change will hurt them - downsizing, for instance - then tell the truth. It's the right thing to do, and it stops the rumor mill from inventing stories about what might happen. Also, honesty bolsters their trust in you (a Level 3 issue). Level 3 - Rebuild Damaged Relationships - and Tend to Neglected Relationships
* Mea Culpa. Take responsibility for things that may have led to the current tense relations. * Keep commitments. Demonstrate that you are trustworthy * Find ways to spend time together so they get to know you (and your team). This is especially helpful if the resistance comes from "who you represent" and not just from your personal history together. * Allow yourself to be influenced by the people who resist you. This doesn't mean that you give in to every demand, but that you can admit that you may have been wrong, and that they may ideas worth considering.
With all the stress and uncertainty facing us in our everyday lives it is easy to understand why anxiety attacks are so common. The recent economic downturns worldwide have only contributed to the amount of anxiety and stress we all experience.
With the seemingly endless assaults on our mental health it has become increasingly more important to learn how to overcome anxiety and panic attacks. Fear of losing your home, your job, even your life savings has put everyone under a tremendous amount of pressure. Our control over these issues is somewhat limited and this we must accept. There is however active measures we can take for managing stress which leads to the anxiety and panic attacks that threaten both our physical and mental well being.
Let's look at 7 ways in which you can minimize and control the negative affects of these attacks and regain your emotional stability and peace of mind.
The first and best thing to do when experiencing attacks of anxiety is to get away from the source if at all possible. By gaining this separation you are better able to keep the tension or stress from compounding any further then it already has.
Collect your thoughts and regroup them. Consider what has occurred and how best to handle it. Determine if perhaps you've overreacted or even if the reason for your anxiety is really all that important. Focus more on thinking as opposed to emotionally reacting.
Peace and Quiet
What you need most is to locate a quiet place where you can more easily calm yourself down. Avoid chaos or highly trafficked areas since this could increase the tension you may feel. Your ability to focus is something you'll need to get your feelings back under control so find a place conducive to deep uninterrupted thought
Seek Fresh Air
If possible go outside where the fresh air and the environment will serve to have a calming effect on you. The natural surroundings will help to clear your thoughts and diffuse your tense emotional state.
The Tranquility of Water
Water has a very calming effect on just about everybody and is actually recognized for its beauty and tranquility. If you can locate some running water all the better due to its ability to naturally mesmerize you which will detract attention away from your source of angst.
When emotions run high there is a natural tendency to hyperventilate which will only help increase the tension you feel. Take active measures to breathe slowly, deliberately, and deeply. This will help to decelerate the escalation of any inner tensions you are experiencing.
Listening to music which is soothing will again help to redirect your immediate thoughts away from any anxiety you feel. The calmer the music the more effective it will be towards soothing your emotions. Even if you are a hard rock or rap fan you will still appreciate and benefit from this type of music.
There's no doubt anxiety attacks can cause major damage to your physical and mental health. The stress we're feeling from both our personal and professional lives can be overwhelming at times. The causes for our anxiety and stress are often times unavoidable. We can however learn how to overcome these negative effects by managing stress instead of trying to avoid it. By taking active measures such as the 7 aforementioned approaches discussed above you can minimize the paralyzing effects of anxiety. What you stand to gain is the peace of mind and the tranquility you need to be productive in business and happy in life. You are entitled to this right so enjoy it!
TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina. For additional Online Success Tips and a free guide that demonstrates how to find both profitable markets and products visit: http://affiliatequickstart.com
By J. J. Tecce Boston College firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 1998
Stress is experienced when an event occurs that can be harmful. It is caused by unpredictability and a feeling of loss of control. Final exams produce unpredictability by the unexpected nature of exam questions, and of course, students typically have absolutely no control over what questions will appear on exams.
One way to incorporate predictability into your life during final exams is to outline your activities for the day. In this way, you have already taken some control over what will happen that day. This is the magic of preparation. You make plans and you already have a road map that buffers the angst of uncertainty. If your aims are realistic, at the end of the day you will likely have met some or all of these goals and will have a sense of achievement. And what will happen to your stress level? It will be lowered. Accomplishment and success will reduce stress every time.
As for the unpredictability of exam questions, the best way to gain control over them is to learn the course material so well that it doesn't matter what questions are asked. But mastery of course information isn't enough. In order to learn the material and retrieve it successfully during an exam, it is important to have a clear mind and a satisfactory energy level.
One way to have a clear mind and good energy level is to establish a rhythm -- a routinethat helps the body prepare for physical or mental demands. Rhythms provide predictability and, therefore, reduce stress. In the ideal situation, the body knows when it will be given a rest and the mind knows when it will be given time off to recuperate from heavy-duty information input or difficult problem solving. All of this helps the mind remain clear for taking a final exam. For example, by going to sleep at the same time each night, the body basks in its own rhythm and sleep will be deep and have a restorative effect. And the result will be resurgence of the vital energies so essential for intense study the next day. By contrast, going to sleep at different hours prevents the body from going into the type of deep sleep needed for restoration of energy. The result is a hangover of fatigue the next day. In short, it can backfire to expose the body to irregularities in sleep habits, since the inevitable fatigue from sleep deprivation will interfere with studying.
Another useful rhythm is eating. A body that "knows" when it will be fed is a happy body that can nourish the brain and support crisp mental activity. In addition to this food routine, it is important to choose the right foods -- those that aid mental functioning. Here we have a food-mood connection. If you are overly tense and nervous, eat carbohydrates (such as bread, crackers, muffins, pasta, potatoes, rice, and dry cereals). They will relax you. If you do not feel alert, eat proteins (such as chicken without the skin, fish, lean beef, veal, tofu, beans, lentils, grains, whole grain breads, yogurt, and milk). They will have an alerting effect. You can see that both eating in a timely way and eating the right foods will have a positive impact on studying.
A third rhythm involves periodic time-outs. Once in a while, taking a break from studying and doing something different -- either a physical or psychological activity --can lead to a refreshed attitude toward work. Physical activity, such as going for a walk,is particularly good for releasing built-up tensions and has the added bonus of deepening sleep for the restorative effect that was discussed earlier.
Part of the rhythm process should be psychological time-outs. Psychological displacement activities, such as meditating, chatting with friends, or watching a movie,are useful breaks when studying becomes a drag. There are two caveats here. The break should not be too long or the momentum of studying will be lost. Second, avoid highly emotional activities, such as a horror film, since they will disrupt your learning set and will interfere with retention of what you already have studied. The same goes for having an intense argument or fight with a roommate or best friend.
Here's the choice for students. Spend energy on keeping track of irregularities in life style, or get into a rhythm and let nature do the signal calling. When nature takes over the role of maintaining rhythms, you are free to apply your energies to higher-level functions, such as studying. Meditation is especially effective in clearing the mind and in providing an energy boost. For example, over the past twenty years or so, students in my classes at BC have practiced a relaxation technique called "distraction-meditation". By doing this relaxation each week in class, students develop a highly overlearned habit that provides powerful rest and stress reduction when needed. The positive effects during the final exam period can be extraordinary.
In distraction-meditation, thoughts and feelings that have been actively suppressed areallowed to enter awareness freely and randomly. By being experienced during the deeply relaxing state of meditation, these thoughts and feelings lose their emotional punch and,therefore, are unlikely to be disruptive during studying. In this way, distraction-meditation provides relief from potentially bothersome thoughts and feelings and allows attention to be focused entirely on studying.
Finally, the incremental approach to studying is useful in reducing stress. There is nothing worse than the overwhelming feeling that a gigantic amount of study material is waiting for you. Nutritionists herald the method of eating smaller rather than larger portions. Similarly, breaking up assigned material into small blocks facilitates learning and provides a satisfying closure at the end of each module. If you try to eat an entire sandwich in one gulp, you might choke to death. And so if you try to study too much all at once, you won't "digest" the material very well. You might even reward yourself after finishing a substantive block of material, such as with a little break, so that there is something positive to look forward to after hard work -- a tiny pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Perhaps the most powerful stress reducer in studying for final exams is to adopt a positive attitude. If exams are perceived as a drag and a source of anxiety and failure,then apprehension will accompany every effort to study for them and to take them. Exams are best viewed as a challenge that can be met successfully and as a stepping-stone for achievement. The anticipation of feeling on top of your game and boosting self-esteem (not to mention receiving accolades from mom, dad, and friends), will make success outweigh the fear of failure. With this totally positive outlook, the game then begins -- to learn, to achieve, and to succeed. And remember -- intelligence may be in your head, but exam success is in your hands.
Since next week will be a presentation week for Master Projects, here are some tips for an effective presentation. Whether this is your first presentation or you've given dozens of them, communicating with your audience is easy if you follow a few straightforward guidelines.
You will not have time during your presentation to cover all of the materials from your paper, nor should you try. Think about what information is essential for the audience to understand how you reached your conclusions. Focus on that information only. Remember that the purpose of your “slides” is to emphasize these key points. Done correctly, they will help your audience retain the information or images you intend.
All presentations have a beginning, middle, and end or conclusion. The beginning, or introduction, is intended to grab your audience’s attention. Remember everyone in the room was doing something else before you got up to speak, so you will want them to refocus their attention on what you have to say. This can be done simply with a declaration of what you are going to talk about. Don’t feel pressured to begin with a joke (which may not translate well across cultures) – a quick overview of what you will be talking about can be just as effective at refocusing the audience’s interest.
The middle part of your presentation is where your main points are presented. Don’t try to provide too much information. With rare exception, you should not have more slides than the number of minutes you were asked to speak. Most people tend to spend about one minute per slide. But if you have complex slides that require explanation, have fewer slides to remain within your time limit. Don’t just read your slides. They can read what’s on the screen – tell them more, or help them interpret what they are seeing (graph or picture). But if you tend to get carried away with explanation, stay focused on the main points and resist the temptation to embellish.
The conclusion is your last opportunity to impart information. You can quickly summarize your key points, or just restate the most important point. Remember, the most likely thing your audience will remember is the last thing you say.
Formatting Your Presentation
* Limit the information on the slide to a single point or idea --- no more than 5 lines. Keep slides simple with plenty of open space. * Use action words to reinforce ideas and phrases rather than complete sentences. * Use “powerful” titles that communicate the point of the slide, not just its contents * Use contrasting colors for text and backgrounds. Most slides that will be projected using an LCD projector look best using a dark blue background and white text. Yellow text can be used for emphasis. Many of the templates that come with PowerPoint have mid-range or busy backgrounds that don't provide sufficient contrast for good readability in a large room. * Avoid ALL CAPS, or use them for the Title only * Use initial caps or lower-case letters for body text o DO NOT USE ALL CAPS FOR BODY TEXT o Do not use underlines. o Both are very distracting and difficult to read * For data presentation, use o Bar charts to compare data; o Line graphs to show trends; o Box charts to illustrate makeup or organizations or processes; o Pie charts to emphasize the relationship of parts to the whole; and o Photographs to illustrate realism. * Be sure the lines on your graphics are wide enough to be seen (the default width in PowerPoint for a line graph is often too thin to be seen clearly) * Use landscape orientation * Use a san-serif font such as Arial, Arial Rounded, Helvetica or Tahoma * Use the Font Sizes and Colors appropriate to the size of the room you will be speaking in: o For a large room: + Titles: 38 – 44 pt., Yellow or White; + Subtitles: 22 – 36pt., White or another light color; and + Body Text: 26 – 34pt., White or another light color. + Figure labels, captions: 20 – 24 pt., White o For a smaller to medium-sized room: + Titles: 28 - 36 pt., Yellow or White + Subtitles: 20 – 24 pt., Yellow or White + Body Text: 18 – 20 pt., White or another light color + Figure labels, captions: 16 -18 pt., White * Color can be an effective way to highlight an important point * If you need to refer back to a slide, include a duplicate - don't plan to move backward in your presentation * Do not put your company name or logo on your slides; SPE logos are also not desired. Keep the slides clean and simple. * Credit the sources of any statistics or other data you use * Presentations containing animation, video, or audio should not reference, display, or mention company names, logos, and trademarked products or services.
Think about what you need to say with each slide so that the audience is drawn along to your conclusion. Remember not to read your slides. Your audience can read the text while you provide additional information. Don't focus your attention on the video screen. Make eye contact with your audience while you are speaking - this will help them to engage with your presentation and relate to what you are saying.
Go through your presentation speaking out loud, and time yourself. If you ran long just talking to yourself, you definitely need to remove one or more slides or points. Unless you are an experienced presenter, nerves are likely to extend the length of your presentation. Once you believe that you are prepared, find someone to listen to you practice your presentation. Someone who is representative of your audience is ideal, but your spouse or a family member will do. Even if they don't understand the subject matter, they can provide feedback on any areas where you don't seem to communicate clearly (speaking too quickly, stumbling over words or ideas, etc.), so that you can make any needed adjustments.