Resistance to Change | How Parenting Trains Us to Lead Change

February 14, 2022

Adoption of new digital business systems and apps is often a tough area for our clients to navigate when introducing new software. A hard truth about software development is that the best-designed solutions can be introduced, but if the people aren’t ready or set up to embrace it…there can be resistance to change and implementation may slow, stall, or fail.

Why is Adopting Technology Hard for People?

A natural resistance to change is embedded in all of us. As noted by Prosci, a leader in change management solutions, “Change is challenging because of uncertainty, risk, and fear. Going from a comfortable current state to something new causes discomfort. This naturally leads to resistance.” (1) Often people are unaware of their resistance to change.

A great example of this is if we step back and think of our kids or even ourselves as kids. Reflecting on those experiences guides us to better understand change management and how to help people adapt.

Parenting | A Great Training Ground for Resistance to Change

Many of us are parents, and as a parent, you navigate change with your kid(s) all the time. From little transitions, like playtime to bedtime, to big life changes, like a new sibling, or moving cities or schools. Changing course, altering the known routine, is tricky.

Routine is predictable and it builds comfort and confidence in kids and that holds for us as adults. Introducing something new to a kid’s, or adult’s, world stirs up a range of feelings from excitement to fear. When analyzing the change, we all run through our internal resistance filters that sound something like:

  • “How does this change impact me?”
  • “Does this change my routine?”
  • “What do I have to do differently?
  • “Will I lose something important with this?

As a parent, you expect your kid(s) to resist change. Instinctually, you begin using strategies and tactics to help them through it. This insight and the tactics parents naturally use are also beneficial in business.

Everyday Parenting Ideas to Help People Adapt

  • Preparation – Communicating to prepare kids for something different is always important. From a 5-minute warning before leaving grandma’s house to talking off and on about soccer starting soon, this important preparation step is important for adults too. Catching someone off-guard is the fastest way to set off alarm bells. Instead, when you frequently talk about what is ahead, why it is coming, and share progress reports – you mentally prepare a person, or team, for an edit to their routine.
  • Listening – As a parent, you always focus on the positives and aim to align values with why a change is happening. This positive spin is important, but it’s also important to allow time for questions and concerns. Reservations are to be expected at any age and people impacted must have a way to raise their feelings about it. Acknowledging and validating concerns is critical and offers a valuable coaching opportunity that builds buy-in at all ages.
  • Support – There are many ways to support. In some cases, it can take the form of helping grow abilities in the task. For a kid worried about starting soccer, a parent would likely kick a ball around a few times before the first practice. The same theory works for those who don’t feel confident using a new system. A mix of tools like – sneak-a-peeks, video tutorials, hands-on training, and cheat sheets – go a long way to ease fears and help to build skills and confidence in what is being introduced.
  • Cheerleading – We know that kids get a lot from a parent being supportive and yelling “way to go” from the sidelines. Ongoing positive reinforcement is valuable for a reason, especially when things get hard before they get easier. This is particularly true with software implementation. So much comes from having a manager and senior leaders continuing to cheer on the team as they work through the hardest part of building new skills and flows that benefit the company.
  • Patience – Change, at any age, is about learning and adapting. Worrying that an initiative is more likely to fail the longer it takes, doesn’t always hold true; particularly when tackling system implementations. A lack of patience can work against the effort and slow the process more. Rather patience and persistence, preparation, listening and supporting people as they learn new skills and routines will lead to the business reaching thier long term goals.

Change is hard. It is why the profession of change management exists. In enterprise organizations, experts are often brought in to help navigate big alterations to business. For other sizes of companies, we know that adding an expert to the team may not be within the budget. The good news, as we’ve outlined, is that many of us have skills and tactics in our toolkits. With a little awareness, planning, and application – your supportive efforts will go a long way to help people adapt.

Convverge | Microsoft Consulting Partner

Convverge is a digital technology consulting and services firm that helps businesses innovate, problem solve, and harness digital tools and advanced Microsoft technologies to transform and thrive in the new digital era of business. You can learn more about our specialties here or you are welcome to connect with us anytime. We’re always happy to chat.

Additional Resources:
(1) 3 Things We Know About People and Change – Prosci