Coaches and trainers need to recognize that not everyone will respond positively to the prospect of change and some will resist.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is a well worn phrase. And useful in its place.

But there are times when, even though something might not be broken, it might have passed its “use by” date, so to speak.

Milking a cow the old fashioned wayMilking cows by hand, for example. Coming from a long line of dairy farmers, I can imagine some farmers resisting for a long time the introduction of milking machines, even though they had been around since the 19th century.

Never mind that they were demonstrably more efficient than the back-straining drudgery of two hand milkings a day.

Not everyone loves change or jumps at the chance of changing the way things are done.

In my coaching and social media strategy practice, I have to remind myself of that on a regular basis.

I have long thought that in the world of business the people who really like change are, for the most part business owners, consultants, coaches, trainers and some executives.

Talk of change can generate fear and anxiety

For a large proportion of the rest of the working population, the word “change” can trigger anxiety attacks about job restructuring (or worse, as in sackings), about fresh demands for more productivity without commensurate pay or other rewards, maybe about whether mortgage payments or children’s education can be kept up, and a plethora of other fears in the realms especially of financial survival and personal prestige.

So when as coaches or consultants or trainers we share our insights into the possibilities and challenges of change, we need to be very alert to pushback or even sabotage, conscious or unconscious, and have strategies to deal with that.

Sometimes the resistance or sabotage can come from high up in the company, say from an executive who has it all figured out, thanks very much, has established a nice little routine and does not want the even tenor of life disturbed.

But we only have to read the newspapers or watch the news on TV, or pick up the trending topics on social media, to know that in business, in government, in education and in other spheres of our lives, change is a constant. We need to deal with that.

Of course, change has always been a constant, but previously not on such a global basis, and not with the speed and unrelenting severity that we have now come to regard as “normal”.

That means there is even more motivation for some to try, in the business roles and relationships they have, to hold onto what they know and resist strenuously the endeavours of others to promote or create change.

How to deal effectively with that resistance is a subject for another post.

Do you have an example of change being resisted, or a story of resistance to change being faced and dealt with effectively?

(By the way, I never could get the hang of milking cows by hand.)

Image credit: Man milking cow the old fashioned way, from Wikipedia, uploaded by Saintswithin and released to public domain

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).