Change is natural. Whether it be physically or mentally, we all change at some point in our lives. However, some people are more resistant to change than others, which could lead to disagreements and a halt or decrease in productivity. Jones Loflin outlines these points in his article, “Seven Questions To Ask When Others Won’t Change.”
Seven Questions To Ask When Others Won’t Change
By Jones Loflin
Innovative Yet Practical Solutions
In the book Who Moved My Cheese?, there is a moment in the story when the character known as Haw makes the difficult decision to leave his friend Hem behind because he isn’t willing to change.
Having delivered training on the book countless times, I still find it one of the most compelling questions about change… when do you know it’s time to leave those behind who aren’t willing to change?
If you’re looking for an answer to that specific question, you won’t find it in this article. There are just so many variables involved and to offer an answer without knowing your situation would be dangerous.
A better line of questioning, I think, revolves around why they aren’t changing. What’s behind their unwillingness to adjust attitudes or behaviors?
If you are currently working (or living) with someone who doesn’t want to get on board with a change, reflect on your answers to the following seven questions:
1. Have I made the case for change based on their personal interests, passions, and desired
Just because you see the need for change based on your needs and interests doesn’t mean they see
things with the same filters. Reflect on what makes them tick… and ticks them off. Be as specific as
possible about how the change will allow them to move forward with what’s most important to
2. Have I shown them how to close the gap between where they are now and where I want
them to be?
While you have the confidence to move through the change, they may not share your positive
thoughts. What specifically will they need to do differently to achieve success with the change? How
much time/training will it require? Even if someone is neutral about a change initiative, they may
resist because they are already working at capacity and see no room to add anything to their plate.
A secondary question related to the gap is, “Have I given them a clear path to move through the
change and be successful?”
3. Have I acknowledged the losses as well as the gains in the change?
People have a stronger emotional connection to what they are going to lose than to what they will
gain when things are changing. Failing to be transparent about the potential losses only serves to
build resistance. And dig deeper about what they are losing to see why it’s so important to them.
Seek to highlight how these elements are present in a successful change outcome.
4. Have I given them the resources they need to change?
Time, training, space (physical and/or mental), feedback, and mentors are all examples of resources
needed to move through change. Think about significant changes you have made in your work or life.
There was something or someone that helped you move through the change more efficiently or
5. Do we have the right leaders in place?
Communication is critical when leading people through change. If you have leaders who have a “Get
on board or else” mentality or who aren’t equipped to work with the varied personalities on their
team, they may be creating additional resistance in members of your organization.
6. Does our organization have a positive track record when it comes to change?
If people see change as the “flavor of the month” and see leaders talk about change but not take any
productive actions, why should they? If your organization has a history of failed change initiatives,
take extra measures to communicate why things are different this time. And make this time different.
7. Are we rewarding milestones AND inch pebbles?
Those you see as resisting change may actually be making slow progress, but if their leaders aren’t
acknowledging it, they may be thinking, “Why bother?” Identify what small progress looks like and
train your leaders (and yourself) to recognize and reward it to keep people moving toward the major
outcomes desired from the change.
In this same vein, ensure that you are encouraging people to take risks and that it’s okay to fail. Raise
the consequences too high for those trying to take the first step in the right direction, and they will be
content to stay where they are.
After finding the answers to these questions, you’ll probably recognize some steps you can take to
better connect with those team members resisting change. And not be forced to leave the “Hems”
Jones Loflin is a global keynote speaker on innovative yet practical workplace challenges and
opportunities specific to the critical needs in today’s marketplace. He is the author of several
books, including the award-winning, Juggling Elephants. Jones is a leader in solutions for
individuals, groups and businesses dealing with lack of engagement, satisfaction and
retention and all the tools to support balanced, productive lives.
For more information on booking a keynote speaker for one of your events, check out www.eaglestalent.com or call our office at 1.800.345.5607
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