Three Change Facilitation Questions

There are many reasons given for why employees resist change, including:

1. They don’t know why the change is needed

2. They fear the unknown

3. They fear they lack the necessary skills

4. They have a fear of failure

5. They are comfortable with the current state

6. They do not trust the change originators

7. They believe that it is a temporary fad

8. They were never consulted

9. They have no information about the change

10. They are exhausted

11. They worry about the effect on the status quo

12. The benefits and rewards are inadequate

13. They fear they will lose their jobs

14. They believe that they will be expected to do more with less

15. They have a fear of losing control

16. The change is occurring at a bad time

17. Their support system will be lost

18. They had a prior negative change experience

19. They have empathy for employees who will be adversely affected

20. There is too much uncertainty around the change

21. They still resent the effects of past changes

22. There are real threats associated with the change

23. They fear any change

24. They don’t like that their routines will be changed

However, the change consultant, William Bridges, says that it isn’t the actual change that employees resist, but rather the transition that must be made to accommodate the change. If the employees do not make the transition, the change will not work.

“Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational [and external]: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, new policy.

Transition is the inner process through which people come to terms with a change, as they let go of the way things used to be and reorient themselves to the way that things are now.

In an organization, managing transition means helping people to make that difficult process less painful and disruptive.”

It does this by answering three key questions introducing the change initiative. The first two questions relate to the external changes taking place. The third question relates to the internal psychological transition that the employees need to make.

Question #1: What is changing and why is it happening?

Employees need to know what the change is and why it is necessary.

Employees will not buy into a change if management cannot explain it in a clear and simple statement without any jargon. The statement should also be brief- Bridges recommends that it be only 1 minute!

Question #2: What will actually be different because of the change?

Employees need to know how the changes will affect their lives, their jobs, and the functions of their department.

Management should be able to explain in specific terms the actual differences that the change will make in how programs and procedures operate, where staff will be located, and how functions will be organized.

Question #3: Who is going to lose what?

Employees need to let go of their old situation before they can start something new.

Management should take the time to understand how the world looks to the employees and use that as the starting point to help them identify the losses and endings they are experiencing. This will get the issues out in the open, give the employees the tools they need to move forward in a difficult time, and build trust by showing that management cares about the employees.