Changes are ubiquitous and often necessary in our lives, both in small or large scale, and for companies to continue to be successful. A change is defined as “changing, changing”. We have all changed wisely in one way or another and we have noticed that change is not always easy. Man is a habitual animal. Even this smallest possible Change makes many people feel bad and want to restore the old state. But why are we so hard to implement change?

Changes are ubiquitous and often necessary in our lives, both in small or large scale, and for companies to continue to be successful. A change is defined as “changing, changing”. We have all changed wisely in one way or another and we have noticed that change is not always easy. Man is a habitual animal. Even this smallest possible Change makes many people feel bad and want to restore the old state. But why are we so hard to implement change?

Many companies are certainly dealing with this issue and are investing a lot of time and money in such changes. The question of the success factors of change is explained quite simply on a purely human level in companies: will, skill and ability.

  • Want: Do I want a change? Do I fancy it?
  • Can: Do I have the necessary skills to implement the changes?
  • Can: Does my boss/management allow this change?

For me, the most important criterion of a change process in the company is the component “May” (allows me my management). Most of the changes in companies mainly affect employees and hardly any managers. Such a change often requires permission to be obtained from management. I have already written an exciting article about this.

Reading tip: Convincing management

Despite new forms of organization, many employees are still hierarchical and follow instructions from management. This is why the other two dimensions can often be carried out clearly simply through discussions/processes (wool) and further training (skills). For knowledge on change management, I have compiled two reading tips for you in the following:

Change means resistance. In this article, I would like to add to the individual level (employee and manager) of a refusal to change. In concrete terms, there are two points:

  • What happens if an individual employee refuses to change?
  • What happens when a change suddenly affects a manager and he shows the same behavior?

What happens in the event of a change?

A change triggers a sequence of reactions that are the same for almost every human being. Look at the following figure. The following steps are particularly important:

  • 3: Rational insight: From a sober point of view, it makes quite sense!
  • 4: Emotional Insight: Well ok!

They notice at the curve that after the emotional insight, the hardest one is actually over. Let me give you an example: take the gym: many people know that they are a bit overweight, but they still do not go to sports. They say: I know it’s not healthy, but I don’t feel like it. Rational conviction exists but emotionally the person simply does not like it. Now the question remains how to convince employees emotionally?

Concretely: If I understand it (rationally) and feel like it (emotionally), then I also go to the gym!

Change model prank
Change model by prank (own illustration)

Limitation

Of course, this does not apply to all managers and many employees are also actively involved in changes. It is often a few isolated cases that cause headaches when changes occur. Even if some tips sound drastic, we people should always act with respect and find compromises, but also make the balance between cost-effectiveness and effort. I would also like to stress that the examples are fictitious persons and that it does not reflect any direct connection to customer projects of mine.

An employee refuses to change

Back to the beginning. What happens to a change in a classic company as we all know it? As a rule, a change is released by the management and announced to the workforce. Step 1 after the announcement is a state of shock, which I think can be easily endured by a little wait. In other words, wait 14 days (SMEs) after the announcement and let the change work. A CEO of a large direct bank once told me: After Telling my more than 20,000 employees in 2018 that we are now using agile methods, I haven’t lost a word about it for a year. Only then was the shock slowly gone and I started with the first information material.

In the 2nd step, rejection through meaningful information and employee discussions must be transformed into a rational insight. However, this rational insight is only half the way and can be achieved through power points, coaching and question time as well as employee interviews.

First choice: Coaching and group pressure

As in the last paragraph, emotional insight is the sticking point. So what do you do with unintelligible employees?

The first option is intensive coaching by guidance and possible external consultants for particularly stubborn employees. My tips for such coaching are:

  • Show the positive!
  • Don’t create any pressure!
  • Take your time and listen!
  • Respond to the employee’s objections!
  • Ask questions!
  • Smile often and show an open body language!

In addition, it makes sense to put the employee in a very motivated team. People are group beings and like to adapt to an environment. Specifically, if my whole team does it that way, then I’ll join in!

Second choice: Instruction

Especially from my time as a consultant, I know that you often put a lot of time and effort into such coaching and that an employee could still terminate in the end. It is considered to be carefully weighing up whether the effort is worthwhile or whether he will leave the company anyway.

Every coach and freelancer will condemn me now but I am a manager myself and I know that time is often little and we introduce agility alongside day-to-day business. I therefore see that a simple method is used for very little insight and candidates who can leave the company: the employee is advised to implement this change, as he has a valid employment contract. So it is arranged.

Difference Manager and Employee – Power and the Dark Triad

Leaders have long had a special position in science as well. Through a certain hierarchical power, they are able to block or implement changes in the company through instructions. The selection of managers is particularly important. If an employee does a bad job, it is often only his direct colleague who suffers. With a bad top manager well and gladly the whole department (30-100 employees).

Aspiration for power

In most cases, executives seek power. Position designations, status symbols, and company organization charts signal such power. It is particularly strong adesire for power that often leads managers and top managers to anti-social behaviors.

A study by the University of Bamberg has pitted about 200 executives against each other in the board game Catan. An important fact of the game is that you don’t necessarily have to compete against each other, but can help each other by trading. The researchers wanted to analyze the behavior of the executives. In order to analyse the consequences of power behavior, the use of oil is allowed. The consequence is that environmental damage and falling overall yields can occur. can lead. All subjects had to fill out a questionnaire beforehand (festellung power striving).

The results are brief and concise: The leaders with strong aspirations for power most often (five times) caused an accident with oil. For leaders of a cooperative nature, this happened much less often. So is less will for power necessary for executives?

The Dark Triad

Unfortunately, a study shows that the number of personality disorders is increasing massively, especially at the management level. A survey of nearly 850 executives by the German Graduate School of Management and Law shows that more than 300 people had a high personality disorder. Lawyers (36%), managers (27%) are particularly affected and doctors (22%). An even larger number shows a medium to mild personality disorder, especially in the area of managers.

Psychologists Delroy Paulhaus and Kevin Williams (University vancouver) conceived the so-called Dark Triad more than 15 years ago. The content is three specific personality disorders, which occur more and again in managers. The two psychologists found that employees in particular are often very difficult to change in their profession. Since managers have more freedom, they are more “you” than employees. Surely you have seen that someone has suddenly changed completely after a promotion.

Dark Triad
Dark triad and description (Own illustration)

Narcissism, psychopathic behavior or machiavellism usually have the following similarities in practice:

  • very sensitive to criticism
  • Depends on status and confirmation (ego)
  • Driven by goals such as power, recognition or wealth

I do not want to go into the individual disturbances, but only to look at the commonality of all three when the leader loses power through change. You can now assume that a person with such a personality disorder literally runs “amok” in the company, depending on the expression of power, and that this is the majority of executives. This is illustrated by the following examples:

  • He screams and is very impulsive
  • He fights the introduction of change
  • He is trying to form an alliance against change
  • He threatens employees
  • He covers up facts that the new organization is improving things in the company
  • He threatens management that he wants to leave the company with numerous customers and employees

Willingness to change very low

There is another additional point: the willingness of managers to change often very low. Unlike software developers, changing jobs as an executive is very difficult because there aren’t that many jobs on the same terms. Managers often do not cancel in case of dissatisfaction and fight for the postion. So the question remains what happens to managers, what changes are actively fighting?

A manager refuses to change – the escalating manager

I am not talking about team leaders with managers, who often have little influence with professional leadership, but at least. Head of Department with disciplinary guidance and good position. What if a change suddenly drives such a leader into madness? Let’s look at a scenario i’ve experienced a dozen times in my consulting career at the time.

Example: Introduction of Scrum – from rational insight to total escalation

Imagine introducing the agile Scrum method to a 50-person IT department in a 200-employee company. Important: Scrum reduces the power of executives at first glance through self-organization and team decisions and is above all a thorn in the side of “power people”.

After the introduction of Scrum was decided by management, the staff was informed. The current IT manager is convinced that the new structure will bring the performance of his department up. So he has understood it rationally and is taking part. A psychologist once told me that the mindset at this moment is as follows: Scrum improves the performance of my department and gives me more recognition and power!

After the 14-day shock phase and some conversations, some employees and external coaches start with the introduction at team level. There are retrospectives, dailys, sprints and the team leaders are well aware of your role as Product Owner or Scrum Master. The legitimate power of the organization moves to the teams as well as new scrum roles.

The friendly IT department manager, who has helped with the introduction before, suddenly realizes that a power is dwindling and control is suffering. Dwindling power makes us increasingly nervous and he starts to process the change emotionally and comes up with a result: Scrum will find its way into this department (rational) but it will diminish my power (emotionally). There is only one thing for him to do: “I have to fight scrum”and he literally runs “amok”. Even if I repeat myself, you will now find the following behaviors:

  • He screams and is very impulsive
  • He fights the introduction of change
  • He is trying to form an alliance against change
  • He threatens employees
  • He covers up facts that the new organization is improving things in the company
  • He threatens management that he wants to leave the company with numerous customers and employees

Often nothing is done for a long time

Practice shows that managers in this position are often very long in the company and also have a certain influence due to many years of success for the company. So the top management will not do anything for the time being. For the staff, and especially the scrum-half, this time is hell, because that’s what he’s going to worry about. During this time, the number of redundancies due to the head of the department is also quite high. Because of his position of power, he cannot simply be ordered to accept the change. Do you notice a parallel to a current US president who simply does what he wants and apparently no one can stop him?

The only solution: escape or wait

Now only a few tips help during this time, because as an employee you can often only very difficult (especially without works council) to prevail against the disciplinary manager. As a consultant I often left the company as my assignment was over but I was able to collect the following tips over the years:

  • Try to be confident. Defend claims and show them that they too are strong!
  • Build a relationship. Mention that they want to communicate and are not a danger (willingness to cooperate)!
  • Strengthen your manager’s self-esteem: you are an important man in the company and we need you as a constructive manager!
  • Make it clear that you don’t want to take anything away from him!
  • Communicate non-violently instead of making accusations!
  • In the worst case, you cancel. Chronic illnesses and long outages are the following of prolonged emotional stress.

Limitation

Of course, this does not apply to all managers and many employees are also actively involved in changes. It is often a few isolated cases that cause headaches when changes occur. Even if some tips sound drastic, we people should always act with respect and find compromises, but also make the balance between cost-effectiveness and effort. I would also like to stress that the examples are fictitious persons and that it does not reflect any direct connection to customer projects of mine.

Conclusion

Changes are ubiquitous and affect both managers and employees. The processing of changes goes through different phases. The most important thing is the emotional insight of the employees. While coaching or an instruction with reference to the employment contract is often enough for unintelligible employees, the situation is different for managers. One reason may be the particular prevalence of personality disorders among managers, which can lead to highly conspicuous behaviour up to massive fights in the company. As an employee, it often only helps to wait or to escape from the company.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/ver%C3%A4 change-new-start-change-671374/

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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