My longtime correspondent, the veteran communication consultant Shel Holtz, wrote a stunningly true blog post last Sunday, titled: “People like change; just not your company’s change.”
“I’ve always been amused by the assuredness with which people throw out the old chestnut that ‘people resist change,'” Holtz wrote. “People do nothing of the sort. They change their hairstyles, their cars, their homes, their fashions, their jobs and all kinds of other aspects of their lives with frequency and glee. People love change.”
As far as organizational change, Shel points out: No, employees don’t like it when it costs them overtime pay or throws them into weeks and months of uncertainty about their livelihoods or bores the hell out of them because it has nothing to do with the actual work they do every day or honestly strikes them, in their studied opinion (employees have those, you know) as stupid or unnecessary.
Yes, Shel concludes, it’s hard to get a whole workforce to change the way it operates. But that’s because doing so requires talking everybody into your fancy idea, making them see how they fit in and convincing them it’s as good for them as it is for you.
That’s hard to do. Hard as hell to do. But it’s not hard because employees hate change. It’s hard because employees aren’t robots.
Oh, and one more thing—and this is from me, not from Shel, but I’m sure he won’t disagree with it—employees already know that “change is the only constant.” They’ve had effervescent loved ones get cancer and die. They’ve watched their young gorgeous faces turn fat and gray in the bathroom mirror. They’re dealing with all new judges on American Idol. And when a CEO or an HR conehead tries to tell them about the nature of change, they realize that they are working for thoughtless, self-seeking jerks.
And they may think to themselves, “Some things never change.” —DM