The 4 main behaviours that can threaten becoming a more efficient workplace

resistance to change

Out of all species on planet Earth, human beings have been the most proficient and prolific exploiters of change and opportunity for the sole aim of improvement. And yet it is the greatest irony that we also have a deep entrenched trait of resistance to change too.

Change is the unknown. Doing nothing means status quo and comfort.

However, in business doing nothing usually won't mean status quo. When it comes to efficiency and dealing with waste, status quo will usually mean that the problems will get worse and so will the culture, because the Exec are subconsciously communicating that inefficiency is tolerated.

So as organisations grow and evolve, lean transformation is not a 'nice to try', it's a complete necessity, to stay at the front. Eventually an inefficient culture and excessive waste tolerance, will lead to crumbling margins and dis-engaged customers.

However, one thing certain to an organisation undertaking a departmental or whole Lean Transformation journey, is that they the process will receive resistance. To understand how to deal with and manage the resistance, it is imperative to understand the types of resistance behaviours and the reasons for them.

Here are the four main types of resistance to lean transformation:

1. Organisational resistance

This is when an organisation rejects and resists new intellectual property brought in through acquisition or with new senior management.

Organisational resistance is often referred to as ‘Not Invented Here’ syndrome and according to Professor Hines of the Lean Institute is more to do with “loss of pride or ownership”.

2. Political resistance

Political resistance manifests itself when the state of affairs in an enterprise comes under managerial scrutiny. Often, when political resistance infects an organisation, the change that is being championed by senior management is seen as a threat to the existing way of working.

For Professor Hines, “Where loss is perceived, making sure that people are given the opportunity to get involved, and are supported and encouraged in their new roles, should help to alleviate it.”

3. Individual resistance

To understand the individuals within the organisation who are resisting change, imagine yourself in their shoes and asking ‘What Is In It For Me?’

If a senior manager doesn’t communicate his or her Lean vision to everyone in the organisation, by demonstrating not just how it will affect the business, but how it will transform the lives of all who work there, the Lean programme is unlikely to be realised.

An obvious method to answer positively the 'What is in it for me'? question, is to concurrently introduce an appropriate reward structure that shows appreciation and recognition of the extra effort everyone has to put it in to facilitate change.

4. Technical resistance

It can be very challenging to implement a new Lean programme, the success of which is dependent on staff acquiring new skills.

Sometimes, it is not about overcoming technical resistance, but conquering fear. For example, if a Lean vision is not communicated to every worker in the organisation, a tide of fear can set in, which, left unchecked, will have a detrimental effect on instilling a Lean Culture.

Naturally a way of overcoming all of these types of resistance is through learning and development. However, before even they can be effective, those leading the change, MUST engage and communicate at the key areas of the business, in order to get everybody pointing in the same direction.

Just as a successfully imbedded Lean Culture will guarantee large, tangible rewards for the organisations, also as definite is that unless all of the key stakeholders and team members are engaged and open to change, a Lean transformation will fail to be implemented at all.


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