• June 12, 2008
  • By Robert Gorin, senior director, Getzler Henrich & Associates

Disbanding the Change-Prevention Committee

Every organization has a Change Prevention Committee (CPC) -- a group of individuals ranging from senior officers to factory workers who are so resistant to change that they hinder corporate growth. Whether people admit to being a member of this committee is one thing; the actions they take to "cancel" their membership are another. Any significant effort, like a client-centric approach to CRM, requires change and prompts our attention to those who will resist it. The two critical questions are:

  1. How does one identify the members of the CPC?
  2. What actions can be taken to convince people to give up their "membership" in this group?

Identifying Resistance to Change
Sometimes CPC members are easy to find. Among their favorite phrases are "in the good old days" or "that's the way we've always done it." Constituents often bond through winks, rolled eyes and out-of-place smiles. They are quick to publicize, perhaps delight in, the company's latest failure. Other CPC members are harder to identify. They exhibit subtle passive aggressive behavior and might rigidly adhere to a 40-hour schedule, irrespective of work load. Regardless, the CPC roster is dynamic and constantly changing, so identifying the members is an ongoing effort.

Giving Up Their CPC Membership Badges
Convincing people to embrace change is always difficult. This is where true leaders earn their keep. Strong leadership is essential, as is providing a clear, concise and meaningful problem statement and scope of the change. Several different approaches include highlighting what happens if there is no change, and spotlighting how it directly affects people. Another is building consensus by putting as many facts on the table as possible. Staging one-to-ones and small group meetings will help the company understand why there is resistance to change. Communicating, listening, communicating some more and then keep listening -- these types of baby steps find exactly where the resistance points lie.

It's often a good strategy to allow those resistant to change to be part of the change process, showing them firsthand that there is a problem that requires change. Next, have all agree on a short list of potential solutions and then select the best option available. Finally, agree on the process for implementing the solution. By bringing CPC members along this journey you can get them to have some emotional investment in the game, and hopefully psychologically invest in the process. Creating a situation where they can be involved with, and directly tied to the project's success often works well.

As change pulls people away from their comfort zones, the transformation initiative must have the proper structure and executive support. Make sure that the project's governance and success measurements are expressed clearly, early and often. Next, link the incentive program into the desired change efforts and outcome. Keep in mind that what gets measured gets done. Explain the metrics, measure them often and openly report on progress. As the process advances, be sure to celebrate both big and little successes along the way.

Sadly, some people find it too difficult to embrace change regardless of your efforts and the company will be forced to move on without them.

In the End...
Change is an emotional issue and often requires more work, and certainly more risk, than the status quo. Remember that the most significant impediment to change is fear. The best weapons you have to convert the Change Prevention Committee's members are facts, persistence, and passion.

About the author
Rob Gorin is a senior director with Getzler Henrich & Associates, where he oversees strategy and operations for corporate turnarounds, process design and improvement, and corporate mergers and acquisitions. For more information about Rob Gorin and Getzler Henrich, please visit www.getzlerhenrich.com.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

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