Any successful change process needs commitment from the people affected by it.
But how, exactly, do you measure commitment?
One definition might be that your people’s hearts and minds are aligned with their actions.
It sounds reasonable – but it could lead to hasty judgements.
Because people don’t always say what they mean, or mean what they say.
Some will apparently agree to a new process without question, and then continue to do what they’ve always done.
Others will grumble and complain, yet do pretty much what they have been asked to do.
Ideally, your process needs to have a way of telling the difference, so you can take the right corrective action with the right people.
It’s important not to assume that inappropriate behaviour automatically equals resistance to change. The simple fact is that most of us dislike change, and many of us love to grumble.
Habits, too, are hard to break. It’s easy for people to remain ‘trapped’ in old behaviour patterns even when they are no longer appropriate.
They may not even be aware this is happening – so their ‘hearts and minds’ may be fully engaged while their actions still lag behind what you are asking of them.
But suppose they just don’t want change?
Where there is genuine resistance, persuasion is nearly always better than forced conformance.
Anyone who doesn’t follow the process needs to understand how their behaviour damages the cause, and the impact that will have on themselves and others.
They may then need help and encouragement to develop new behaviours.
Of course, it’s possible they have good reason for resisting the new process. So it’s always advisable to get to the bottom of their issues before taking any action.
After all, they may have found a problem you hadn’t thought of!
But even if they haven’t, their feelings are important – especially if others share those feelings.
Forcing conformance may simply harden their resistance, and fatally damage your chances of achieving the change you need.
So rather than talking about ‘resistance’ to change, it may be more helpful to talk about readiness for change.