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Negativity in Change Management

written by: lisalisatong • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 7/13/2013

Negativity, whether expressed or quietly harbored, is one of the biggest obstacles that must be overcome in our change management challenges. We'll take a closer look at how this negativity manifests itself and consider several possible solutions for combating it.

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    Overcoming the Negativity Obstacle

    014 by Leila Fa In Part 2 of this series, we discuss the challenges of bringing change to an organization and how to overcome it. We will discuss the involvement of negativity and its harmful effects to sensitive topics. Dealing with change management challenges can be a slow and rigorous process that involves a high amount of emotion. It also takes a knack for people management. It takes tact, patience and perseverance.The most difficult form or rejection of change is negativity.

    The backlash of negativity is a direct action that goes beyond ignorance and denial. It is outright acknowledgment that the change will not be accepted and there is no fear of voicing this. Confrontation can be difficult and often comes with negative impact. This strategy, when used correctly by the initiator, can cause tremendous roll back in progress and plant seeds of doubts in those who sit on the fence. A few techniques to try for change management challenges include:

    • Tackle the negativity one-on-one. There’s no point in fighting fire with fire in a public, and potentially hazardous, situation. This is not to say that you’re going to take on this fight head-on, but rather understand where the negative sentiment is coming from. This task will require patience, open ears, and time.
    • Be brave. Aside from tackling the negativity one-on-one, tackle it face-to-face. Sitting down to talk about it is far more productive than sending an email or leaving a voicemail. The idea is to reduce barriers to communication and ensure there is effective, direct, and clear communication from both ends. In addition, face-to-face interaction will drive both point-of-views home faster and further. Doing it face-to-face with your least supportive team member or colleague is not easy – this is why you have to be brave, think positive, write down points to support your arguments and yet bring an open ear to listen to their opinions. These types of meetings require preparation.
    • Remove emotional connections. The negativity is not directly aimed at a person, but for people in general, it’s just easier to point a finger and cast blame. It is rare that just one person is accountable for change management; it is usually an executive mandate where a number of executives have agreed upon it. However, for the person responsible to initiate the change and the project management of this project, it can be difficult for them. Remove any emotional connection to the project. The resistance is not a personal attack, but rather a rejection of a process. When things get heated, change management challenges are difficult to separate the emotions from results – but to maintain your sanity, it’s something to remember.

    There is no quick fix for the challenges that come with change management. Only the bravest and the managers with the most perseverance are able to tackle change management processes with success while maintaining sanity. These types of exercises will test your negotiation skills, creativity, and tactical ability.

    A good approach is to first tackle change management technically. This means building a strong and solid change management plan and having a good communications plan to deal with your change management challenges.Once the theoretical foundation is in place, next is to tackle the softer side of change – the people. Having a game plan for people management is also the key to ensuring success and, of course, following some of the mentioned techniques. And last, it is important to document progress, no matter how small.These mini-milestones are achievements and hopefully, collectively, they eventually add up to a finalized project.

    A few good references:

    Part 1 of this series discusses the resistance and ignorance factors and offers some suggestions on tackling these issues. You can also read:

    Frameworks for Change Management

    Best Practices of Project Management

The Challenges of Bringing Change to an Organization and How to Overcome Them

Bringing change to an organization with a set culture and business processes has its own set of challenges. These challenges and some suggestions to overcome the introduction of change into an IT organization have been outlined here to help individuals and organizations move forward.
  1. Overcoming Resistance, Ignorance and Denial in Change Management
  2. Negativity in Change Management


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