Responding to change – part 1

Author: Lena Löfdahl, Scrum Master
All of us know that we are living in an ever changing world. IT has provided new opportunities, products, markets and ways to make money. In order to not only survive but also prosper, companies have to adapt, to change and find new ways of doing things (and new things to do). If companies succeed in harnessing change they will survive and grow, change is now an essential ingredient for success.

An organization, when it comes down to it, consists of people. There are many ways for people to respond to change. Some of them are better than others, and then there are always people who are outright resisting or working against the change. As a Scrum Master my various assignments have placed me in a unique position to not only observe, but also drive change as it happens in larger organizations.
Let’s be honest, often change is quite a painful and extensive process which brings out both the best and the worst in people. This is my attempt at trying to make sense of the reactions I meet out there, in the real world, when people are faced with change.
Change Resisters:
The Disbeliever
Don’t believe in it, sometimes even after they see it working. Will not work with you, and if you are lucky, not against you either. Trying to convince someone who simply does not believe is often a long term commitment which involves lots of patience and proven way of work. The good thing is when you finally have them believing, they will be on the side of change until proven otherwise.
 The Backstabber
Watch out! Driven by his or her own agenda they will not only resist change but actively try to damage or destroy what you are building up. Quite often they are very hard to spot due to extensive practice of going underneath management radar. In my experience they are easiest handled by letting them know that you see what they are doing and, if required, are willing to escalate it. Beware of giving in to them.
 The Clueless
Might act as if they understand what the change is all about, but in reality have no clue what it means, what it is and what to do with it. If you are able to spot them (they might have excellent hiding skills) this would of course provide an opportunity for you to give them information and help them out. Armed with knowledge they can then spread the change onwards in the organization.
The X-believer
Firm believer in MacGregor’s X-theory; the workforce is less intelligent than managers, lazy, not trustworthy and in general shies away from work. So it simply does not matter that change is required, the rest of everyone cannot do it for various reasons. Characterized by a lack of trust in their coworkers. Extensive proof is required, and even then it can be exceedingly difficult to make them believe.
This list of Change Resisters is a work in progress and the plan is that part 2 will extend this blog even further.
Truth is, responding to change is at best tricky, difficult and tough work. However, the rewards with change often speaks for itself when motivation and numbers rise. In short, responding to change is essential.
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