Overcome Resistance to Change with Marina Field
Hi everyone, it’s Jenn Dewall, and on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast, I sat down with Marina Field to talk about how to overcome resistance to change. I know that I resist it and I know that others do too. Change doesn’t always seem on the face of it like the best thing, but we also know that in the future of work, change is a part of life. But let me tell you a little bit more about Marina Field, who I sat down with for this conversation today.
Meet Organizational Psychologist and Change Consultant, Marina Field
Jenn DeWall: Managing your career can sometimes feel like a maze where you constantly bump into obstacles as you’re trying to achieve your goal. That’s why Marina is passionate about providing her clients with the tools and resources that they need to navigate their careers more effectively. With a doctorate and organizational psychology from Columbia University in 20-plus years of corporate experience, she has the unique ability to provide theory-informed guidance that is both practical and actionable on any given day. You might find Marina coaching mid to senior-level women transitioning careers, consulting with organizations on talent management issues, or facilitating student learning regardless of the day. Identifying ways to help others develop and grow is always at the forefront of our minds, and let’s grow together as we talk about how to overcome resistance to change.
Jenn DeWall: Hello. Hello. Hello, Marina. I am so excited to have you here today talking about change, something that not everyone really likes! I mean, and we’re gonna get into that. We’re gonna talk about what it takes to actually create change, and why people struggle with it. But before we get into our topic today, Marina, I want to welcome you to the show. Thank you so much for being here on the Leadership Habit. We are so happy to have you as a guest.
Marina Field: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to actually be here.
Jenn DeWall: Yay. Okay. So I know that we ride your brief bio, but please if you could go ahead and just introduce yourself to our audience, tell us a little bit more about yourself, how you came to be, anything that you would choose to share is totally fine.
Marina Field: Sure. Well, my background is in organizational psychology, and that’s the study of the intersection of work and people. And while I was studying organizational psychology, I had the opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of change management from an academic and theoretical perspective. And then once I was done with school and got my PhD, I went into consulting. And while I was in consulting, then I had the opportunity to apply that knowledge that I gained in school and help organizations good go through these really large change transformations.
But at the same time, when I think about change and I think about me and like trying to answer your question, I’m also a product of change. Just like everyone that’s probably listening just like you, like every, we all go through change. Like, you know, I’ve been been in, in organizations that have gone through mergers, I’ve transitioned fields, I’ve been promoted, so all these different things. And so I really love change, but what I love even more is helping individuals and organizations understand and manage change. And that’s whether I’m acting as a career coach, a consultant or university lecturer.
What Happens When People Experience Change?
Jenn DeWall: I love that. And today we’re going to really focus on the resistance that people have to change. And I feel like even just sharing your background of whether it’s changing careers, that there are a lot of people that can get paralyzed by even thinking about doing that, or just the change to, excuse me, the work that we thought that we knew when there’s a merger. I know that I’ve been through a merger and acquisition and oh gosh, that brings up all the feelings. And I’m sure that there are some people right now that are seeing change in the way of the layoffs that have been happening by a lot of big companies is that they’re finding themselves maybe asking, where do I go? Or how do I adapt to this new change with all my friends that are gone? Why do you think leaders need to know how to overcome resistance?
Marina Field: So before I answer that, I wanna step back a little and talk a little bit about like, what happens when people are like, you know, going through change. So change is really about like, you know, doing something different or doing something new and people really enjoy where, what they’re doing now, the status quo, they’re really comfortable with how things are happening now. So when you come around and ask them to change, it becomes uncomfortable.
Like, I don’t know about you, but every day I go to my closet, I look at all the clothes, and then I wear the exact same thing that I’ve worn the week before because it’s comfortable and I know, and I don’t have to think about it. And it’s like routine. And for, you know, you or maybe a listener maybe it’s you, you have the same coffee every day, or you, you know, you have the same lunch or you stop at the same coffee shop. We’re very comfortable. It’s routine. You don’t have to think about it. And when you ha when you, when someone asks you to change, it’s gonna push you outside of your comfort zone. And when you’re pushed outside of your comfort zone, that’s, that’s what might lead to actual resistance because then it becomes like, well, why do I need to change? Like, things are good now, I’m really comfortable. What, what? Like, no, like let’s, let’s stop the train. We need to like, just like leave things the way they are.
Jenn DeWall: Right? Like why, what if I don’t like it? What I’m thinking of even with saying that, because I know that there are many areas that I’m a creature of habit in my comfort zone, and one can even be at a restaurant if I’ve been there before, I will order the exact same thing every time out of fear that I will not like another potential thing, and then I’ll be disappointed with my menu choice.
Marina Field: <Laugh>. Exactly. Exactly.
Why Should Leaders Know How to Overcome Resistance to Change?
Jenn DeWall: I, okay, so I love that. Yeah, it’s that fear, the fear asking us to do something different. And I guess if you’re a leader, you likely are like, oh gosh, this is the battle that I’m climbing every single day with some of my team. Why do you think that leaders need to know how to overcome this resistance? Like, what is the value to them? Because I think, yeah, I’ll just, I’ll turn it to you. Why do you think leaders need to know how to overcome this?
Marina Field: So leaders need to be able to overcome resistance because if they don’t address these concerns that employees are raising, the, the change initiative could fail. So when employees are resisting first, you have to understand that they’re going through an emotional reaction. There’s actually a model called the Kuba Ross model that talks about the different emotions that someone might go through as they’re going through change. So it could start off with just being shocked then you’re going to denial. Like, I can’t believe this is actually happening to me. So thinking about like, you know, again, those, those layoffs you go, you might get into anger, you might go into depression, you go through all these emotional reactions before you potentially could end up as commitment. So leaders need to understand that when they tell someone that, you know, a change is gonna happen.
And if that’s not a change that people are comfortable with, employees are acting, reacting to this from an emotional perspective. And again, they wanna stay in that status quo. They wanna be comfortable. So leaders have to first step back and understand that they need to make sure they’re bringing employees along with the journey and overt in order to overcome that resistance to change. Now resistance might look like a couple of different things.
Marina Field: It could be that employees are just asking a lot of questions. So it could be, you know, again, why do we have to change? What, what’s wrong with the way we’re doing things now? We, we tried this before, if failed, then what’s, why is it gonna be different now? And sometimes those questions might actually be resistance, but some reachers researchers say that, well, maybe they’re just asking those questions because they need to understand what’s actually happening. Especially as a leader, you might have known about this change initiative for months or a year. And so for you, you might not recognize how big of an impact it might have on employees who are just learning about it now.
Leaders Have to Be Ready To Answer the WHY
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. I feel like there is a lot of that they design the strategy in a vacuum. Yeah. Without understanding the emotional component, that’s going to happen. As you bring that change going forward, where do you see leaders, you know, getting this wrong? Is it strictly their not understanding that it’s emotional? Is it that we think that we can just tell them what to do? I guess I even relate to what you had just shared about asking questions because that’s one of the ways that I process things I, you know, need to understand. And so I’ll ask questions. And when I ask them, I never think it’s a sign of being resistant so much as I think it is the way that I’m trying to process and understand the why. Right. But I’ve absolutely had my hands slapped throughout my career of being like, do not ask me questions. You are trying to undermine my authority. And then that makes me a little. I feel like a bad person because I ask questions, even though that’s just the way that I process information.
Marina Field: Exactly. I imagine that you’re a leader and you have to get this initiative, so you’re getting pressure to put, put, put this initiative through. You’re telling people, okay, this is where we’re going, this is what we’re doing. And then you’re bombarded by all these questions and you might not have the answers to these questions because the change hasn’t happened yet, or everything isn’t figured out. You don’t have the answers. So you, you’re, you’re feeling stressed out because people are bombarding with questions. You don’t know how to like, what to tell them. And so you start getting frustrated, you start getting stressed out as a leader because you know, you’re getting all these questions thrown at you and you don’t know what to do and you don’t necessarily know how to act. So that’s one re that’s one way that leaders sometimes can go astray because they haven’t taken time to think through how they’re gonna address some of the questions or even to be comfortable with saying, we don’t know yet.
Don’t Forget to Get Employee Input About the Change
Marina Field: We’ll get back to you. We’re still figuring things out because sometimes leaders don’t feel comfortable saying that they don’t know. The other thing that, other path that leaders take sometimes that makes things challenging for them is they make unilateral decisions. So it’s like, we’re gonna make this change and they don’t take the time to get the voice of the employee involved in, in helping to make that change. So it’s just they make this, so an example here would be, you know, some of the companies are saying, okay pandemic’s over everyone get back to the office. And they’re seeing a lot of resistance from people saying, no, I’m good. I, I wanna work hybrid, or I wanna work remote. And you know, you see this like push and pull from leaders saying, no, you have to come back and, and employees saying, no, I wanna stay hybrid or I wanna stay remote. So just making these unilateral decisions without getting participation from employees is another way that leaders can, can change to make things more effective.
Jenn DeWall: I mean, I relate to that one esp especially because I’ve just been hearing so much more, I guess, stories of companies that are saying, well, I, fun time is over. It’s time to get back to the office. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you need to come in. And people are asking why. And especially within some of the organizations where they actually are fully, you know, by nature of the last few years, they’ve likely hired in different areas where they don’t have in-person offices. And so it doesn’t even, I guess I, it makes sense to me why it doesn’t make sense to them to say, but all these other people still work remote and they get a pass and then I have to come in and it’s not, you know, I I love that you bring that one up because I think that there’s so many missing pieces, especially as it relates to that and what they’re considering. What’s the expectation that’s been set? What like what are you trying to, I guess, enforce or what’s the why? Because I think a lot of people don’t understand it beyond, you just want us back in the office for x, y, Z reasons. And they don’t necessarily see how it might benefit them. Where else might leaders get it wrong?
Marina Field: I, again, I think it goes back, so exactly what you said, leaders are not explaining why, why do you need to do this? So if leaders tick some time, time to explain the purpose and why they’re, this change is being made that would go a long way to addressing some of the concerns of employees. I think, again, like some, some researchers talk about the fact that when you’re, when you’re seeing resistance from organization, from employees within your organization, you have to think about why am I viewing this as resistance? So it goes back to what you were saying before, like you’re asking questions cuz you’re trying to understand, but you got your hand slapped because the person who’s listening didn’t perceive the question the same way you were perceiving as, I’m just trying to understand. So maybe it’s resistance, but maybe someone’s just asking a question. So, you know, take some time to think like, okay, I got a lot of questions. Is this really resistant or do I need to communicate about this a little bit more? So again, that’s another area where leaders, you know, might get things a little bit wrong in terms of how they’re interpreting employees’ reactions.
Jenn DeWall: I love that one, just the mindset. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> of embracing or giving people permission to ask questions As it relates to change. I mean, you said you shared earlier that it’s emotional, so why not give people emotional support to ask questions, to be able to weather it? I mean it seems it’s all of this can sometimes seem so obvious, but yet, you know, when I think about the work climate today, is it, are we missing these things because we just don’t know, are we missing these things because we’re going too fast? I, you know, what do you think are some of the reasons that leaders aren’t taking the time to reframe their mindset or aren’t taking the time to think through some of this?
To Overcome Resistance to Change – SLOW DOWN
Marina Field: We’re living in an environment that is so fast paced. It’s like, go, go, go, go, go. We need to get things done very quickly. And organizations don’t always take the time to create a change management plan. It’s like, we ha we don’t have time to do that. We just need to push it out. And when you take that stance, it takes you longer or your change initiative ends up failing because you didn’t slow down and do things properly.
Jenn DeWall: Yes. It’s slowing down to speed up. That’s one of my favorite expressions for leadership. So when you think about why people resist change, is it predominantly just an emotional component? Are there any specifics within it that can be a little bit more triggering for people or why they might resist the change in the beginning?
Marina Field: So people, when, when people are faced with change, they’re really thinking about how is this gonna impact me? And so outside of emotions it might be, you know, am I gonna lose my job? You know, do I have to go back into the office? How is this gonna impact my life and how I go about doing things? And if they perceive it as being something negative, then they’re going to resist. Or even just like I under, you know, the process that we’re using now I understand how to do that process, I can do it with my eyes closed and now you’re asking me to change the process when I, I think this process is better, even when a new and change initiative might make the employee’s life better because it’s new and it’s different. It’s just kind of like what you, you were saying, but I’ve already tried this food, I know it’s good. You’re asking me to try something different. What if I don’t like it? <Laugh> what happens then?
Jenn DeWall: I just laugh every time. Like, I think my, my husband would absolutely be like, Jenn, can you just try one different thing? <Laugh> one different thing. I, I just, you know, it’s that fear. But I know in the pre-call we had also kind of talked about transitions that, you know, and the difficulty that many of us face when we are doing transitions. I know we just gave the a more fun example. It’s not that difficult. I mean, I could try a different food, but the stakes aren’t even that high, right? Like cost of me not trying a different food isn’t that high. But let’s talk about change as it relates to transitions and why people really can struggle with the concept of change.
Why People Resist Change
Marina Field: Sure. So when you think about a change, so a change is just like I can just let’s say I’m doing a systems implementation. So one day I turn the, I flip the switch and the changes happen. It doesn’t take that long for the change to actually happen, but the transition is actually a lot longer. So the transition is the part of the process that organizations really need to think about and work on to make sure, again, that they’re bringing employees along along the way so they understand like why we’re turning on the switch, when we’re turning on the switch, what’s gonna happen after we turn off the turn on the switch so that employees can go through that transition process. It addresses the emotions that they’re going through, it addresses the concerns that they’re going through and that helps bring them along and get them more committed to the change.
Jenn DeWall: Gosh, and I can’t even, I even think about this from, you know, that coaching perspective, and I’m sure you see this with your clients too, is that sometimes when we want the change, we have the illusion that the transition is going to be so fun or so great. When I get that new job, when I move to that new city, when I insert what, and I think people are really caught off guard that they’re brain, they’re body, their feelings might actually be resisting that transition that, you know, as much as it’s fun, there’s often a point when you move somewhere and you’re like, oh my gosh, I don’t know anyone. Or you get that new job and you’re like, oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m doing. And so transitions, I think feel can be, as it relates to change, I feel like we don’t realize the emotions that are going to come outside of enthusiasm for, you know, a self-directed change versus obviously the other emotions that can come when that change was more forced on you, I don’t know, do you see that a lot with your clients that like, it’s so excited for that next career, the next promotion and then they’re in it and they’re like, why did I want this?
Marina Field: Exactly. I see that and, but I see it in terms of, you know, they get, it’s like as it gets closer, as the opportunity gets closer, their fear goes up. It’s like, I want this, but I’m also scared of it.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, I want it, but what, what’s gonna happen to me? And is that that like, I mean mean I don’t know how you see it? And this is more of a curiosity question when we go through transitions, do you think it’s more or less that we just don’t realize how much our, of our identity was attributed to the past city or the past job that we don’t realize that we’re walking away from who we thought we knew? I don’t know, maybe that’s getting too meta, but I know that your background might be able to better that question. That’s just kind of the, the hunch that I feel like I always get is that people don’t realize you’re walking away from an identity when you’re doing these, these, even if they’re exciting changes, you’re walking away from the person that you knew to become the next version of yourself.
How Fear of the Unknown Causes Resistance
Marina Field: No, that can be you’re, you’re right on target. That can be a huge reason why people have challenges with managing change or going through transitions. Going back to like, let’s say an organizational example, if I’ve identified with my business unit and I’ve been working there for 20 years and now you’re telling me because of a merger, my business unit is as going to be disbanded, then who am I? Who am I in this organization? What does it mean? Like for 20 years I’ve been doing this, you know, I’ve been coming here, I’ve said that I’m a member of this business unit and now it’s gonna go away and I don’t. And because it’s you know, because it’s a change, I might not have answers about what I will be in the future. And again, that can be really scary on a personal level, as you said as well, if I’m going through a career change and I’ve had this identity, you know, I’ve worked at, you know, XCOR X corporation for this many years and now I’m gonna go to a different industry, I don’t, you know, I don’t have the connections, I don’t know the people I’ve gotta start from scratch.
Marina Field: You know, that’s gonna, your, your identity can be impacted and it can be really hard.
Jenn DeWall: Gosh, I just feel like I wish I could tell everyone that, like when they send their resignation letter to say, okay, when you go into this new job, just know that you might, you’re gonna have a little bit or a day that you’re going to feel unnerved by this and that’s totally fine. You still made the right choice. I wish that everyone could get that disclaimer because I don’t think even my neighbor who is 50, he’s 50 and he spent his last 14 years at a career and I was just asking him how it was going and he is like, it’s been tough. I’m like, just remember like transitions are really hard. And he was like, thank you for saying that to me because I was starting to feel like I made the wrong choice <laugh>. But I think we don’t realize it cuz we get caught up in the like excitement of it. Yes. Of it that we just don’t.
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How Can Organizations Do a Better Job at Managing Change?
Jenn DeWall: So, bringing it back to the organization. I love talking to a change in general because of it. Whether it’s like how we show up as individuals and making changes in our lives or whether, you know, coming into the workplace because I feel like there are so many ways that organizations like I scratch my head at how they, you know, the return to work request, like the ill thought out like there are totally valid reasons to bring people back into the office. I absolutely get that, but it’s also, you don’t get to do it because that’s what happened before the pandemic. Like that’s no longer the logic that’s gonna get them back in, that’s actually gonna get them right into LinkedIn looking for their next job <laugh> and you wanna keep them so at least include them in the dialogue. But now let’s go into kind of that solution piece. Like how, like what are ways that a leader or an AGA organization can better anticipate or overcome resistance to change?
View Resistance to Change as Valuable Feedback
Marina Field: So again, it goes back to first understanding why you are viewing these behaviors as resistance? The second question that some researchers suggest that you ask yourself is, how can I use this resistance? Or how can I view this resistance as feedback that’s gonna help me support the change initiative? So those are two questions that you can ask yourself. Another thing that you can do as a leader, and we’ve kind of hinted at this and talked a little bit about this, is make sure that you’re telling people why this is happening. So instead of just saying you’re going back to the office, talk about why like, we want you back in the office because, you know, people like to socialize at work and when you socialize, you make better connections, things are more efficient when we work that or whatever reason you have, but explain your why for why this change is actually happening because that will address some of the questions and concerns people have. Another thing is to talk about what the future’s gonna look like. So what is your vision for what’s gonna happen once this change initiative has been implemented? So what are things gonna look like? What are things gonna feel like? So again, these are, these are things that these are types of things that employees are gonna wanna know, and they’re gonna wanna understand.
Jenn DeWall: <Laugh> Now is this, oh sorry, go ahead. Like as it relates to the vision for the future, like, cuz I feel like sometimes that vision has probably set really beautifully in a strategy session, right? They had, you know, they, they spend a lot of hours doing it and then as that’s going through the organization and going down the layers, that vision might get lost. I don’t know if you, you have any insights on how to preserve the vision that was initially kind of created? Because again, what I think of, and I’ve shared this on the podcast before is when I was in my twenties I was asked to do this new process as an analyst that was going to require a lot of work and I insert the eye roll that I had with my 24 year old ego self, right?
Jenn DeWall: Insert like how I was initially like why are you asking me to do this? And my boss at the time like couldn’t really give me it as, as outside of like, that’s what everyone has to do now. And then when I listened to the quarterly earnings call and heard our CEO explaining that in our new strategy to Wall Street, it made sense. But my question then coming back to it is, is that what I have to do to understand our organizational strategy now is that I have to listen to the quarterly earnings calls or should that also be a part of every level of the organization to understand what the vision is that we’re working towards, especially the ones that are managing employees that have to make these changes.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Marina Field: You’re exactly on target again. So two things like, you know, cuz clearly in that instance it, the change wasn’t handled properly in terms of communicating what that vision is. You need when you’re doing, going through a change initiative in terms of like the why, the purpose, the vision, anything related to the change initiative, you need to communicate, you need to communicate, communicate, communicate. You need to use different channels. You know, because people don’t read their emails <laugh>, you know, so it, it needs to be like emails needs to be posters. You need to leverage your managers, you need to have meetings, you need to use as many different, especially depending on how large the change initiatives. You need to use as many communication as ch channels as possible. You need to communicate frequently you need to make sure that people understand what it is that you’re trying to say.
You can test for that. You can send out many surveys to see are people getting the message and are they getting, are they understanding the message in the way that you want? But people think like, oh I, I did, I sent out an email, I sent a couple things you need, even if you’ve thought you’ve spoken about it till you’re blue in the face, you need to keep on talking because people are aren’t always gonna get the message. So that’s one, one way to address that situation.
Identify Key Stakeholders and Create a Change Network
Marina Field: The second way is when you’re doing a change initiative is you need to identify who are your key stakeholders and that’s something you should do very early on. And make sure that you are in communication with them and you involve them in the change effort. This could also be an opportunity for you to involve the people that are actually resisting the effort and have them involved and get their buy-in because then they can turn around and help be the supporters of the change initiative if you can get them to the right level of support.
But having those stakeholders and understanding their level of influence within the organization, they can help spread the word and help spread the vision. One of the things that we used to do when I was a consultant is we would create these change networks and we would identify influencers within the organization and we would send messages down to that change net network and ask them to distribute it between you know, their networks. But we’d also, the, the communication channel worked both ways. So we would ask them what are they hearing and they would send that information back to us so we could kind of get a pulse what was happening in the organization and what people were saying about the change initiative. So we could see like, okay, are people understanding what are people saying about the change effort? Do we need to create communications to address what’s actually being talked about in the organization?
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I love that one. But that does, okay, you were consultants, you saw this in real time. What happens when, I’m just curious because you likely have to have a very like growth mindset to be able to open up that feedback loop into it. And so how did you maybe help some of those leaders that were going to then get that be like, it’s okay that they don’t like the change. Like I don’t have to get mad or frustrated at them. Like, I can take this as open and you know, I appreciate that feedback. I’m curious because I’m, I’m guessing you likely sometimes heard cuz it happens all the time, right? Where people are like, I had no idea the employees were gonna feel like that. And then you find it out, but then sometimes you’re like, well I don’t care anyways so I’m gonna still have them do that.
Not to say that’s where leaders are today, but I love that you gave that opportunity to create feedback loops because I think that sometimes with change I can, I’ve worked at organizations where it’s like, well I still said to do this so I cool, I’m glad that you don’t like it, but I don’t care <laugh>. So how did they respond if it was something where they like, hey we, would they create an additional communication strategy or how would they respond if they got, maybe because let’s be honest, it wasn’t probably like met with, oh I love this. Like, so how did they respond to that pushback?
Use Negative Feedback to Inform Your Communication Strategy
Marina Field: I mean, sometimes you hear like, well the data’s wrong, <laugh>, like, you know what, what you’re hearing, no, they, they don’t know what they’re talking about. And, and so that was definitely a delicate situations where you have to sit down and explain like, no, it’s not that the data’s wrong, these are the concerns that people have and if you don’t address them, it’s going to impact the change initiative. So let’s have a conversation and you know, let’s get our people on the ground and like, let’s get you face-to-face in meetings. If you don’t believe it, why don’t we get a group of people so you can have a one-on-one conversation or have a group conversation so you can hear it for yourself or you know, things like that. But making sure that people understood like, okay, we can’t ignore this information. We have it and we have to address the concerns, so let’s do some more communication. Let’s cha let’s see, like why our current messaging may not be connecting with people or how are we not addressing the concerns of employees and what can we do to actually address them?
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m thinking so much now more about the role of bias that can come into play of confirmation bias and people saying, well I don’t wanna hear that people don’t like this. And so what level, I don’t know if you have any like, guidance of like do you handle, like do you go before the changes out and kind of like start to float the idea to understand the types of resistance people can have so you can communicate that before you get everyone on board? Or is it more of a, as these things come up then we’ll send an email that’s answering this. Like do they do town halls or is there kind of any best practices that you would recommend for how they can start to understand the resistance that they’re going to get and then get ahead of it instead of waiting for it and then, you know, not having a strategy for it.
Marina Field: So this goes back to the importance of your, of identifying who your key stakeholders are. Cuz your key stakeholders could be, let’s say for example you’re, you’re rolling out a change initiative and you’re gonna need a lot of money. So the, you might need to have the CFO as the key stakeholder and making sure that they’re on board and they have an understanding and having a conversation with them to find out, okay, where, what are your concerns about this project? And making sure you address those, those concerns. Or maybe your change initiative is a process and maybe it’s at very low level of your organization where someone has a wrench that they have to you know or maybe a hammer that they’re nail, you know, they have to hammer in a nail and you’re gonna ask them to not use a hammer anymore, but use some other type of equipment and they, if, if they don’t use this new equipment, it can completely screw up everything.
So you have to make sure that you talk to that person and make sure that they, you understand what their concerns are and address their concerns. So it’s really about understanding who your key stakeholders are and having conversations with them and understanding their concerns so it doesn’t have to, that can happen before you do like your big launch, like this change is happening. So identifying those key stakeholders first, understanding their concerns and then creating communications that you can then later use down the road. Because if they have those concerns, then other employees are gonna have their concerns as those concerns as well.
Jenn DeWall: Right. And it’s just gonna become the meeting after the meeting if you don’t address that <laugh>. Right, which I mean, cuz that’s, what is that I, I forget what is the, like what the number one reason is that change efforts fail? Is it because we don’t give the why or we don’t communicate it where people are like, I don’t understand this. I mean I, you know, I know there’s a lot of factors or I feel like change efforts fail because I’ve worked at organizations that set strategy after strategy after strategy and they never follow through on them. So none of them seem like a priority. And then I guess I’ve taken the, the path of self-preservation, of being like, I’m not gonna do this change because you’re not gonna stick with it.
Try a Closure Party to Overcome Resistance and Celebrate Change
Marina Field: Exactly. <laugh>. And, and, and so it’s really important for organization, for, for leaders to distinguish what is different about this change, why is this one going to succeed versus all the other ones that may not have succeeded in the past. And sometimes, you know, this goes back to the identity question or the identity conversation we’re having earlier. Sometimes you have to separate things out. Maybe you have a closure ceremony and you say like, okay, we’re today we’re getting together to celebrate like our previous successes and what we did in the past. And also to talk about like in to, to celebrate the new, the start of a, of a new way of doing things and start, you know, so like have an actual party or an actual meeting where you formally acknowledge the past and talk about the future.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I love a closure party. I have never heard of that. And what a great way to get people like, we’re all here today, today to say, you know, goodbye to this and like know that we all get it, we all love this, but we’re so excited for what’s coming. And just feel like it’s like a pr campaign for your for your change to do a closure party. I love that idea. And it makes it feel more, we’re all talking about this, we are all gathered here today to either mourn this loss or talk about an exciting new future. I don’t I’ve never been a part of a closure party and I love that idea.
Marina Field: <Laugh> one of, so, so in addition to closure parties I, so I don’t have an example of a the example I have is not of a closure party, but it’s more of you know, a new beginning party when I was part of a employee that was part of a merger. They talked about NewCo for weeks on end and we got emails that were teasing like, you know, it’s, you know, countdown to day one, you know, this many days to day one. And then there were parties all over the country to celebrate the joining of the two organizations. So I’m based in New York City and all of the New York City employees went to Central Park and there were balloons and activities and parties and it was, it made everyone really excited to be part of this new organization and it signaled that we are no longer part of this old organization. You can leave that identity behind. We’re now part of this new organization.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I love that one. Never heard of either of these closure or new beginning, but I wonder if, because I, I am sure I’ve seen a lot or heard through a lot of students, participants and being through like a merger myself, just watching how much fear is created when the merger, when the word merger and acquisition is thrown out. And I feel like a new beginnings party is a really nice way to be able to soften the fear to make it seem like it is actually something to be excited about instead of something to fear and be nervous and start, you know, job searching or to try and get away from.
Marina Field: Yeah, I mean, I can tell you from my own experience, we had so much pride in being part of this new organization because they were able to generate so much excitement about this new organization.
Jenn DeWall: My gosh. So anyone that’s potentially going through a merger or acquisition, you might know it, some people might be in part of those conversations, you might want to also add in a new beginnings party or a closure party to be able to help that transition and to help soften the fear response that will happen within your organization. Marina, I have really enjoyed our conversation today. I even those last, I love those last two cause I’ve just never heard those concepts before either. But like, why don’t companies do that? Why don’t we have new beginnings or closure parties as it relates to change instead of just sending out an email. Like, I love those ideas of getting people, like using the emotions to feel the progress. Thank you so much. And before we go, hey, if you wanted to share anything else on change, happy to hear it, but also I want to know or how can our audience get in touch with you?
Where to Find More from Marina Field
Marina Field: Sure. I love connecting with people and you can find me on LinkedIn and it’s linkedin.com/Marina field.
Jenn DeWall: Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Marina,
Marina Field: Thank you for having me.
Jenn DeWall: Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode with Marina Fields. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And if you wanna connect with her, you can head on over to linkedin.com and there you can look for Marina Field and link up that way, or you can connect by going to her website, NorthStarWorkforceSolutions.com. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it with a friend. Or if you want to learn more about how you can develop your leadership skillset or the leadership skillset of those on your team, head on over to crescom.com. There you can request a two hour complimentary leadership skills workshop. Until next time.