Helping People Adapt to Change

Previously we have looked at what causes people to be resistant to change. To help overcome any resistance, you need to work with your team to help them adapt to any change. You can do this by asking them, involving them and having a clear and concise communications plan which starts from where people are, not where you think they are – or want them to be!

To help people adapt, treat resistance as a natural by-product of change. People can be logical, emotional, unsure and understanding all in the space of 5 minutes! Expect it and talk to them, ask them and involve them in order to deal with it. Don’t rely on the fact that you think you have made a compelling case for change to get you through, you may well have but it doesn’t mean you will avoid resistance, you still need to help people adapt.

To help people adapt you need to spend some time helping them understand their own reactions to change. People go through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For those going through change, knowing that their reactions are normal and that everyone else will be going on the same journey will be reassuring and help them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel which makes them more likely to adapt to the change rather than resisting and then retreating back to their current state.

When helping people adapt and overcome their natural resistance expect people to take one step forward and two steps back. For example, they might arrive at the acceptance stage, then something happens – or they find something out to make them fall back to anger. Let people know that this is also normal and to be expected and it can make a huge positive difference to the speed and success of change, not to mention the stress levels of everyone involved!