Wonderfully Disillusioned- The Resistors

Do you have a few people, or maybe just one, in your organization that cause(s) people to warn others of their presence?

“Watch out for ___ (s)he always does ___”

Every single initiative I have been on has one of those people. It is fun to count the number of stakeholders that come to warn me about certain individuals (the record so far is 6 people quietly warning me about the same person). Can you imagine being that person who has a forewarning wave that precedes their arrival to everything? If you ARE that person of course you can’t imagine (if you could you would not be that way).

Can you imagine going through life being the difficult one?

Again, I know, I am preaching to the choir. And you “resistors” are just saying, “la, la, la, la, la… I can’t hear you…..”. There are people in this world that are VERY difficult. There are people who carry expectations that no one can figure out (that is usually part of the forewarn warning). There are people who insist on making the world their way. And THAT makes me very disillusioned.

But just for a second, take a breath and think to yourself… “maybe Joe or Josephine resistor is onto something”. Maybe, just maybe, they have some valid points. Maybe the reason they are so obnoxious is because no one listens to them. Maybe they yell and scream because they do not take the time to articulate their points (raising your voice to someone who speaks a different language never works for understanding). Maybe we should cut them a little slack?

Enter the (effective) Change Management Practitioner

These people are the stakeholders you need to start talking to- rather than running away from.

Those people who warn you? What are the odds that they are also resisting in some way?

One of the strong points of good leaders/guiders of change is their ability to ask questions. Expertise in that area is the ability to re-ask in a different way to gain understanding. Yes, you may go through many rounds with these types of stakeholders. Yes, you may have to spend more time than you would like building a little trust. And yes, you may have to be very careful- there are a few resistors out there that are exactly that, saboteurs.

Take that time though. Ask the right questions. Find out why they are so passionate about the negative. Get to the root of their emotion. You will find a wealth of background information for this particular change (and for the politics of the organization). The results are, frankly, WONDERFUL. Do this and you may just be WONDERFULLY DISILLUSIONED.

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Sidelining Resistors


Yesterday’s post, “Mad at the World” leads us into this post.

Heather Stagl adds some perspective with, “Sidelining Those Who Don’t Play Nice With Change”. She started the sports metaphor, I will add my personal twist.

As a coach for my girls’ soccer teams I know the value of a sideline with a comfortable bench. It is the place I bring a girl to when she is not participating. It’s the place where the improving talent sits. It is the place where the extra plans that feed into the game are created. It is where a minute level of tactics takes place. It is a spot there someone sitting can root on the team. It is where people laugh, scream and cry.

I have learned:

You can make that sitting spot a rotating thing. If it is the same people sitting there all the time, is the team getting any better? You might be winning some games, but what if you lose one of the players that is out on the field (to injury, unwillingness to participate on a certain day or those tears that come up in life)? There will be a game later, I guarantee you, where you will need EVERYONE at their best.

Heather’s change sidelining is “setting people aside for a bit”. I may be doing the same with my teams (certainly when they have decided not to really participate on any given day). We may want to take the version Heather explained and combine it with mine for three different approaches- one to set them aside, one to use the bench strategically to build and lastly to do the two together as a bigger, broader plan.

So with change:

  • Do not automatically sideline someone because you think they will resist. As hard as it is to believe, every day is a new day- even for resistors. It just takes someone to make that new day visible and possible.
  • Do not take away the opportunity for anyone, even the best player, to sit on the bench a bit. It is a different view there. It is a different level of connection to the change/game and it might be closer to the coach.
  • Use the bench to develop skill, competency and understanding. Yes, two of those three things need application. Those two are stronger with the third which sometimes requires a sideline sit.
  • For some things, as a practitioner or change leader, you might want to consider sitting on the bench yourself for a bit. I took a five minute silent period as a coach of my daughters team at a recent game. I saw and learned more in that five minutes than I have all season about me as a coach, my team, my players and the game itself. Works for change too.

The sideline can be your friend in sports and with change. Think of it as both a time-out spot and the foundation for growth and participation.

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Mad at the World


Do you know someone who is Mad at the World?

This takes on many different forms:

  • Mad because they haven’t gotten over something from the past.
  • Mad because they think they never get any breaks.
  • Mad because people do not pay attention to them.
  • Mad because they do not feel good/ are unhealthy (physically).
  • Mad because someone (Dad? Mom? Nasty Uncle?) taught them to be that way.
  • Mad because they do everything right and everyone else is useless.
  • Mad because they are never in the situation they want to be.
  • Mad because it feels good.

There’s more, but listing them is making me a little irritated.

What do all of these bullets have in common?

This person in your life that you are thinking of, is inward (until they display the madness), likely has little real control of their surroundings and is heavily influenced (in a mad sort of way) by their environment.

Do you see the circle?

Allow me to generalize. These people tend to take on roles where everything can be completely controlled OR they choose careers that serve. Think HR and Long tenured teachers. (Yes there are happy HR people and teachers- I needed an example to relate to).

Take charge of this Mad People!

  • There are ways to get over the past (conversation, friends, hobbies, professional help).
  • The only people who TRULY get free breaks are trust fund babies. Everyone else has to work and work smart in order to be in the right place at the right time for breaks (and “luck”).
  • Good deeds, good work, exceptional talent and effort tend to get rewarded. If you are not getting that you are either not paying attention or not really doing any of those four things.
  • No doubt you do not feel good. Anger is like 5 cups of coffee- an exhilarating high that crashes like a tsunami. It’s nice outside- go for a walk. Now do that at least every other day. Do not stop at the breadbasket along the way.
  • Mom or Dad or the nasty Uncle, while still hanging around in your head, do not live with you anymore. You do not wake up in the same house with them. Address that inward thing for this one. Start looking around. There HAS to be something good within view. If not move to a different spot (yes two meanings there) and look again. Rinse and repeat.
  • Are you sure you do everything right? Because if you are not then how would you know everyone else is useless?
  • Even those who spend a lifetime trying to get themselves to the spot they want to be will still never know when they have arrived. The only final destination is a last breath. You actually ARE in the situation you wanted to be… in some ways. We are not entirely without choice in life; destiny has many paths. Unless you are mad all the time. It is impossible to make smart decisions when you are mad. So you may be right about the wrong place thing.
  • This one is the nastiest. I swear people who are mad at the world are happier when they are mad. That makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it. I saw a study a ways back (no idea where it was, but this totally makes sense) that showed people who get mad a lot get their body trained to release hormones, like endorphins the fun one, when they are mad. So yes they are happier mad. And the process to switch that has now become a chemical one.

This, of course, does have to do with change.

Those “resistors” are very often mad-at-the-world-people. None of us as practitioners have the time to help them with all of these bullets, or the many left off the list. What we can do is try to pull them out of their shell early on. Pay a little attention to them. Show them the successes of others. Take a walk with them and just talk- about them. Get them to acknowledge their anger/resistance in some innocuous way. Then cross our fingers they jump on board or fade into the background…

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