Weakness vs. Understanding when it comes to Change

by Erin McCune on July 8, 2007

in Change Management

A recent post by CIO Magazine's blogger Christopher Koch explores our evolutionary, biological reaction to change. Humans automatically respond with fear and anger when facing the unfamiliar. Understanding this innate reaction and working to help employees come to their own conclusion that change is necessary and beneficial. This requires communication and compassion.

Sympathy is a loaded word in our macho business
and IT culture, because it is often associated with weakness, both in
those who express sympathy and those who are supposedly in need of it
(pity, is, after all, a synonym). Especially in systems projects or
major business changes, there is little patience for the word, because
those involved in the change simply have to get through it and the
quicker the better. Spend too much time on sympathy and you'll never
get anything done.

Let's use a word with less baggage: understanding,
which is the necessary prerequisite to a sense of sincere sympathy that
is untainted by the "w" word. CEOs and CIOs often can't sympathize with
what their employees are going through during change efforts–meaning
they don't go through the changes and may never have done so in their
careers. But they can understand why their people are having the
reactions they are having. If they understand, they can sympathize. If
they sympathize, they might be prompted to take action to make the
change easier and will be less tempted to take the traditional "just
get over it" path. And if change goes better, businesses do better.

Read the whole post:

The Primordial Factors in Change Management
Written by: Christopher Koch
Koch's IT Strategy Blog
CIO Magazine
Fri, Jul 7, 2006 14:29 EDT

Koch's post was prompted by this archived article from one of my all-time favorite management magazines, strategy + business:

The Neuroscience of Leadership
by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz
strategy + business
Summer 2006

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