Why are we so bad at change? We seem to get the procedural part but we can’t seem to manage the interpersonal part. somehow we have forgotten the power of the comfort zone and the inertia that keeps people there. This morning I listened to George Ayee talk about the kinds of resistance he has heard around change. “I don’t get this” – the intellectual resistance; “I don’t like this” – the emotional resistance and “I don’t like YOU” – the personal trust issue. I would add “I don’t need this” – the physical more immediate response.

For me it is easy to identify the past present future orientation in these resistant statements and then it becomes easier to create a plan of action or a response in each of three instances. For those who live in the past it is SOOOO important to acknowledge past contribution. If you don’t do that the resistance will become entrenched and the project is doomed. So for those who don’t like the change an exploration of what they like about the past and want to keep moving forward is crucial. Once those appropriate pieces of past can be identified and incorporated in to the plan for the future you have met the objections of the past oriented people.

The present oriented people will come on board when everything is settled and in place. until then they will operate as they have. They don’t need to hear about future plans. They just need to know what to do today. “I don’t need this” means I am doing my job right now. Once the job description has changed I will do that one too. Just tell me what to do.

The future oriented people are all over change except when they don’t understand the why. For them the intellectual reasoning needs to be clear to allow them to freedom to move forward.

Change managers really need to be aware of where the people are. In every change conversation elements of past, present and future orientation are key. So be prepared to describe the change from five years out as a thing of the past for past oriented employees. Be prepared to explain it as if it has already happened, as if it is present and operational for the present oriented people and also be prepared to describe the result (the why), the contrast between the now and a future then for the future oriented people…. and be prepared to watch people shift perspective as they SEE, HEAR or SENSE someone recognizing and addressing their concerns effectively – in their own language.