How to Avoid Resistance to Change

What is your business case for change?


At the end of the day, we all resist change emotionally. Steve Akinboro, who spent more than two decades building high-performing teams in two of the world’s most popular foodservice brands (McDonald’s Corporation and Domino’s Pizza), knows a thing or two about managing people through times of change. Steve explains that the key first step in working past resistance is to ensure that everyone understands why the change is necessary. He suggests inviting employees and stakeholders to participate in the change process and give their perspective. “Folks don't care about what you say; they care when they know that you truly care about getting them involved in the process,” says Steve. Widely respected as a change agent who builds collaborative, achieving cultures, Steve shares challenges and solutions from his career.

At the end of the day, we all resist change emotionally. The key first step, once you understand and know that we all resist change emotionally, is to say, "Okay, why do we need this change? What is the business case for the change? What are the benefits of this change?" And at the very early stage of the journey, get the key stakeholders together and share the business case for change.

Start with why, because when folks understand the why behind the change, there is a little bit of less resistance emotionally, and they tend to be open to hearing, "Okay, I understand why we need to change." And now, invite them to participate in the change process. The people support what they help to build, but if you don't get them involved at the very early stage in the journey, that, in itself, creates some resistance along the way.

When you start with why, don't be so sure that you will not get some resistance or questions. As a matter of fact, you should invite some of your stakeholders to push back, and share their perspective on the direction that you've just shared with them, and listen. Because when you allow them to push back and ask questions, they are able to course-correct things before it comes out of the gate and everybody else have to deal with it on the back end.

You know, folks these days don't care about what you say. They care when they know that you truly care about getting them involved in the process. So, providing the tools that are necessary to do the job and than coming along side your team members to sometimes observe, sometimes to provide encouragement, but be present in the moment as a servant leader. Supporting those team members is absolutely key to change management and successful change strategy to take hold.


Steve Akinboro

As a widely accomplished global senior operations executive and change agent, Steve Akinboro works to accelerate corporate results in the highly competitive multi-unit branded retail foodservice industry. Steve is a consensus builder ...

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