When objections to change can be positive

Saturday, 6th September, 2014

bigstock-Businessmen-quarreling-46604029When leading a new change, do you choose to spend your time around those who agree with the change, or those who disagree with the change?

It’s very tempting (and preferable!) to do the former of the two. Spending time with people who support the change, think like you, and will sell the change to others in your absence, is much more desirable.

But avoid over-listening to this group. It could skew your reality of the situation. (Perhaps everything isn’t going as well as you thought!)

Instead, make time to listen to the dissenters … the ones who don’t see things your way; have their own (strong) opinions on the change, and voice them at regular opportunities.

Why?

  • They will feel that their opinions are valued and they’re being listened to.
  • They may raise issues that you have missed; this can be easy to do, especially when the change is complex or large. If you’re leading the change, you’ll probably have the benefit of the bigger picture, and the end goal in mind. The down side to this could be you miss some of the detail … the day-to-day stuff that you’re either not aware of, or just haven’t thought of.
  • You may have made an assumption about why they are objecting, and you could be wrong! It’s better to get clarity on this before you make a judgement about it/take (inappropriate) action.
  • They may have come up with alternative routes to achieve the change. This is useful if ‘how you get there’ isn’t as important as getting there!

It’s important to respect resistance and objections – give them their voice, but only for so long. In coaching, there’s a school of thought (linked to moving the coachee forward) that the coach will only allow the coachee to tell their story once. By ‘their story’ I mean what’s happened in the past to lead to the current situation. Repeating the same ‘story’ won’t help the coachee make progress, and I think it’s the same here. Once you’ve clarified the objection, it’s about either agreeing with them and making necessary adjustments, or finding solutions to make the situation work (as far as possible) for both of you.

Let me know how you’ve led change at your school, and your experiences around this topic in the comments box below :-)


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Thank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.