What are some ways to overcome resistance to change in the workplace?

Allen Clauss recommends a simple 3-step model for coping with change in the workplace
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Allen Clauss, President, CTI Consulting, LLC
Allen Clauss, President, CTI Consulting, LLC

It is human nature for us to seek consistency and predictability in our personal and professional lives. Changes, particularly unexpected changes, can be stressful and feel threatening. Consequently, it is common behavior for us to have some fear of change and try to avoid it. However, it is important for us to realize that change, for us personally, and the organizations we work for, is not only inevitable, but essential for us to grow, improve, and succeed. 

When changes take place, they usually result in advantages for some and disadvantages for others versus the status quo. However, typically these are not just by random chance. Changes favor those who are able to anticipate them, think ahead, and take advantage of the new situation. When one is able to do that, changes become an exciting opportunity rather than something to be avoided, minimized, or even dreaded.

I recommend a simple, 3-step model for dealing effectively with change that I call the “three E’s”: Expect, Embrace, and Engage

  • We should expect change rather than avoiding or denying it. Change favors those who anticipate it, think ahead about it, and prepare for it. Always be on the lookout for the next changes.

  • We should embrace changes proactively with a positive attitude; become an advocate for change rather than a resistor. Remember that change is essential for healthy growth and improvement of individuals and organizations. 

  • Finally, as changes begin to occur, engage early; be an early, enthusiastic, adopter, not a late reluctant adopter. The former are typically among those who are most advantaged by change. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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