By Ted Powell – September 3, 2014

Sometimes we talk about organizations as if they are living, breathing entities, capable of resisting change.

problem solving

Of course, we know this is not the case.

It’s not the organization that ignores new trends and disapproves of needed change—it’s the people that do!.

As humans, we are hardwired to maintain the status quo, protecting ourselves by staying in our comfort zones. We are programmed to move away from pain. Change inevitably causes pain: fear of failure, facing the unknown, and feeling incompetent. If you want to accelerate acceptance to organizational change, it is important to anticipate and avoid the common obstacles that get in the way.

Often, leaders respond too late – and organizational transformation gets delayed.

Too often the change is underway without addressing the obstacles to change, and the resistance causes problems with productivity and morale, or difficulty in achieving business results.

Here are the 4 stages to anticipate that employees will experience during times of major change and transition:

The Four Stages of Organizational Change

In order to lead people effectively to stage 4, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the most significant change my organization is experiencing at this time (industry, process, organizational structure, technology, etc.)?
  • What are my employees’ deepest concerns, and how do I address those?
  • What is my communication strategy?
  • What are the key messages?
  • Which stage are we in right now?
  • What behaviors, mindsets, and attitudes am I observing?
  • What actions can I initiate to move people toward stage 4?
  • Do I need to provide special attention to any individuals who might be struggling with the change? Who are those people and how should I address their resistance?

Note that you cannot push your people through the stages of change.

By being present and aware of where people truly are emotionally and energetically, and how you can support them, you can lead them through to full commitment and better prepare them for future changes. It is also much easier and effective to guide their energy versus carrying the entire burden of energy on your own shoulders.