Change for the Sake of Change
People love change if it maintains the status quo or makes things better. The canard that people “resist” change ignores these two cases. For example, if your administration said, “Your benefits next year will change to a new carrier but they will stay the same” or “we are replacing this analyzer with one that is 50% faster,” most people will approve.
But leaders and managers alike often change for the sake of change alone. CBS Money Watch points out that new leaders will do this to show what they can do, partly from an egotistical desire to identify themselves with a change. “The problem is ... change for change’s sake is harmful or worse for organizational performance,” the article author states.
Management dismisses resistance, because it’s perceived as an obstacle and not constructive feedback. But a large amount of pushback, questioning, and cynicism is a strong sign that the change isn’t needed or needs changing itself. Management often tries two tactics when this happens: over-broadcast to justify implicit punishment for noncompliance; inflate the urgency by promising said punishment. “My way or the highway” is the message.
This happens over and over and always works poorly. It’s mind-boggling how often leaders return to the same well and blame staff for it being dry, when they dug the well in the first place.
The author continues: “Smart leaders understand these dynamics. They focus on changing only what needs to be changed ... they understand the costs and risks of change and losing focus, so they don't overburden the company by trying to do too many new things at once.”
They change what needs to be changed to improve whatever makes the organization successful, understanding that people have limits. I’ll bet they meet less resistance, too.
The next time change for the sake of change happens, ask, “Why are we doing this? How will it improve our strengths?” Asking questions can start a productive group discussion that leads to real insight or even a better idea. If the answer is always, “Because I said so!” then you also have your answer.
NEXT: Holding Meetings Accountable