Do as I Say, Not as I Do

By Bill Wilder, M.Ed., Life Cycle Engineering
As appeared in Learning to Change

Change outcomes improve when employees participate in change initiatives—for example, helping assess and develop change projects.  Most of us already know this at some level.  Formal research on resistance reveals that this is true around the world and in a wide variety of organizations.

Another point the research makes is that employees who receive information about the change up front are less resistant to the change. As in the first point, this makes intuitive sense.  But the research also shows that if the change is something people don’t agree with, just being informed doesn’t necessarily make them less resistant.

But the point that stood out for me is the increase in resistance when employees see managers and leaders saying one thing about the change, and doing another.  For example, managers at one company put out the message that they wanted more efficiency and cost reduction.  But they continued to reward only technical excellence—not the cost reduction they said they wanted.

The idea is that we need to be consistent in our change message and our actions.  While this might seem obvious, it bears repeating because it’s quite a bit easier said than done!  

Source article:       
Dennis G. Erwin and Andrew Garman, “Resistance to Organizational Change:  Linking Research and Practice,” Leadership and Organizational Development Journal  31:1, 2010, 39-56.


Bill Wilder, M.Ed is the founder and director of the Life Cycle Institute, the learning, leadership and change management practice at Life Cycle Engineering. The Institute integrates the science of learning and the science of change management to help organizations produce results through behavior change. You can reach Bill at [email protected].

© Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.

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