It’s always nice to get positive feedback. A bottle of champagne is terrific…perhaps a card or two? But what about when a student tells you that you have successfully dismantled his entire understanding of people management in a two hour class on Managing Change Well that’s delicious feedback. Why? Because the class in question was about resistance and the role resistance plays in managing change (or, not managing change as the case may be). My position on resistance has always been that resistant people aren’t always ‘problematic’ or ‘blocks’ to improvement/progress. Very often they are protecting something very important. The example I used in this class was this:
What happens if your company is downsizing and you have been told that your job is safe but, you have to relocate to a different office. This means an additional 100 mile round trip every day. Should you feel grateful? relieved? what if you don’t? what if you feel resistant to this change in your working conditions? Very often the response of (some) students is critical. Many suggest that the worker should be grateful that there is a job at all….but what if the gratitude is lost somewhere in the middle of this worker’s realisation that an additional 100 mile round trip means s/he can’t put their child to bed any more….and won’t be there to see their child in the morning. Is that worth defending? Invariably the answer is ‘yes’….so in thinking about resistance we also need to think about what the ‘resistant’ person is trying to protect. If we can think about that then we have some common ground on which to build a different kind of understanding.
So, when a student tells me that I’ve switched a lightbulb on….that makes me very, very happy!