Such a simple statement yet the organizational consequences are significant. We wonder why our workplaces are plagued with fear, anger and resistance. With every new change we implement, we are already changing again. There is often no ability to settle into a change, no room for compliancy (even for a moment); and no space for reflection. Ultimately, there is a dichotomy between what is required of us within the organizational context and what we physically and psychologically are able to manage.
I have often found myself contemplating why we spend such time and energy resisting what is or what we know will be? Yet, the answer is simple. We are genetically and evolutionary programmed to survive. Our current mechanisms to do this remain with fight or flight. When we cannot cope with our present or predicted circumstances, we move into fear; and when we move into fear, we defend ourselves.
For organizations, flight results in passive resistance to change, denial, apathy for our jobs, lack of engagement and turnover. When we move into fight, we see aggressiveness with leaders and teams, lobbying the troops against “the establishment” or acts of retaliation.
For years, I have studied, taught and led change within teams and organizations. Despite every effort to the contrary, change results in very predictable employee behaviors. As organizations and leaders seek to better manage change efforts and enhance acceptance to change initiatives, we must begin to increase individual resilience and aid them in not only understanding the change, but managing their emotional response to the “abandonment of everything” we have come to know.