How to stay motivated when change resistance is high

Some days are brighter than others when you are responsible for leading a change or managing a change. Every day is not a bed of roses, easy to get plans approved, sponsors on board, time with leaders. Some projects are easier than others. There are those where you might score a fantastic sponsor who works with you, listens and you collaborate on how to transform a department or organisation. Then there are those which are hard, and resistance is high. 

Some of the better ones that change managers LIKE to work on, (as resistance will often be low to non-existent):

  • New incentive programs where staff are offered more.
  • Creative culture design programs where you work with organisations to design the culture they want and you play a role in bringing it to life.
  • New products or processes that really see a tangible benefit to customers and allow for upskilling teams as well.

And then there are the changes that are not so exciting where resistance is high, however they are changes that just have to happen:

  • Restructures and cuts due to financial pressures.
  • Compliance projects to support some new regulation requirement or legislative change.
  • Offshoring services or efficiency related programs.

No change manager or change leader for that matter likes introducing a change where people are impacted negatively which also means high change resistance. 

So how do you stay motivated when you are met with change resistance and you may be personally challenged as to the change taking place?

If you find yourself managing or leading a change like this here are some things you can do to be able to stay motivated in the face of high resilience:

  • Don't get caught up in the emotional reactions, and most of all don't take them personally
  • Be professional when others may not choose to be
  • Listen and support, but don't rescue
  • Be consistent and know that everyone expects you to role model the change as well!
  • Take a day off or a breather if you need it.
  • When you get caught in the weeds, take a step back and re-orient yourself to focus on outcomes.

Now while I outline these, I can share that from personal experience it is always not possible and you may find yourself having a hard day, or run down, or even burned out. The one tip I do recommend is if you don't feel up to facing the angry hoardes, see it as a courageous thing to bench yourself for the day so you can show up even better the day after. The more you lead and manage change transformations the more you will recognise the times in which you may need to take a time out, and when to time certain conversations dependent on your own emotional state.

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