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Resistance to change

Discussion in 'ISO 9001:2015 - Quality Management Systems' started by Mehrdad Soltanifar, Dec 20, 2020.

  1. Mehrdad Soltanifar

    Mehrdad Soltanifar Member

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    Throughout the years I'm working on continuous improvement, one of the vital challenges I have faced in almost every company was resistance to change by some employees. Even when they know the benefits of that change and the top management already fully support it, still some (if not most) people tend to do things the way they used to.

    Change management techniques such as ADKAR are good to some level, but I'd like to hear about your personal experience with encouraging participation and how you deal with resistance to change by employees when you want to implement improvement projects such as ISO 9001?
     
  2. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure that I'd consider ISO 9001 an improvement project, however...

    Let me ask you, when you use words like "when YOU want..." do you mean an individual or what? Part of effective change management is that it is led/supported by top management because they have understood and make it part of their routine. Improvement doesn't come from one person. The idea can, but the effort behind it cannot.
     
  3. Bev D

    Bev D Moderator Staff Member

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    As someone who leads - or is strongly involved in - Improvement projects of all kinds, complexities and breadth of effect, my experience is that there is only so much that you or anyone can do. There are of course many very important things you need to do that will help. Among them: senior leadership involvement and leadership, training, ensuring that the benefit case is clear and thoroughly communicated, ensuring that every voice is heard etc. I would include that you need to be sure that the change is really an improvement. I have also never known anyone to ‘buy in’. Either they own it or they don’t.

    After you do all of that there will still be people that will oppose or resist. It’s human nature. How you approach those individuals is different. Depending on the nature of the change you may ignore them, have their manager’s deal with the performance problem, or help them find a company that is more to their liking.
     
  4. Mehrdad Soltanifar

    Mehrdad Soltanifar Member

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    Good question Andy. It is true that these improvements require teamwork, but I mean as an individual, when you already have the support of the top management, how do you approach other key personnel, to receive maximum support?
     
  5. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess it is going to depend on what we understand is support. How do they demonstrate it?
     
  6. Mehrdad Soltanifar

    Mehrdad Soltanifar Member

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    I do agree, Bev. But how about mid-level managers who cannot be ignored or get fired. What would be your approach to gain their support (without reporting that to the top management)?
     
  7. Mehrdad Soltanifar

    Mehrdad Soltanifar Member

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    By Completing the tasks (e.g. NCs, risks, quality objectives, etc.) they own.
     
  8. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    People do those things because a) they are assigned to do them and b) because they don't want to be seen as not doing the tasks. That's not support...
     
  9. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you sit down with them over a coffee or tea and, point blank, ask them why they are resistant? Granted, in this day of COVID-19, a face-to-face coffee break together may not be possible, but a virtual "tea break" - I encourage you to both bring a beverage and even something to snack on to keep it informal - can offer a friendly, non-judgmental environment to discuss concerns, reservations, hesitations, etc. It's a time more for them to talk and you to listen. They may offer reasons and you - this may be tough - don't offer immediate responses. Mull it over and really think about what is driving their answers.

    For example, they may say "I wasn't trained on the new software!" Meanwhile, you want to respond with "But we offered lots of training sessions and documentation!" But, if you take a step back, maybe it wasn't that they were not trained but rather that they were not trained in a way that resonated with them - people have different learning styles. Maybe they need a different approach than what was used for everyone else.

    Or they may say "I just don't get the point of this improvement!" And you want to say "But we showed all the benefits!" But, if you take a step back, maybe they're afraid that they're losing authority or control or power,, and this can really hurt their ego. Now, instead, you need to focus on smoothing ruffled feathers and fears of insecurity.

    Part of change management is being a psychologist and really getting to understand what is driving a person's resistance. And what might keep one person from accepting the change may be different than someone else's reason. ADKAR may result in something that works for the majority of the team, but then an in-depth awareness to work one-on-one with those outliers resisting the change is also needed. And, who knows, you might discover something to help your current change (or future changes) stick even more.
     
  10. Mehrdad Soltanifar

    Mehrdad Soltanifar Member

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    Well explained Roxane. Much appreciated.

    What would you recommend to increase motivation among staff? A common issue that I often encounter is that staff are interested at first but lose their motivation especially after we get the certificate. They are not necessarily resisting to new improvements, but quality management becomes old news.

    I have tried periodic progress reporting, training, rewarding, etc. but haven't seen a significant increase in motivation as much as I was expecting.
     
  11. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Because the objective was met. If you expecting people to be excited about maintaining certification, then you should also expect to be disappointed. Getting certified ISN'T about improvement.

    From you posts, I think you may have an incorrect understanding/perspective on the implementation of a Quality System which can be certified. Sadly, it's the wrong business to be looking for motivation.
     
  12. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    This may be a somewhat long and rather philosophical response, but I hope you'll indulge me...

    From my own experience, "motivation" is an activity within change management that has only short-term/incremental benefits. To the point made by @Andy Nichols , the motivating factor for your organization appears to have been achieving successful certification. Once attained, everyone celebrates and status quo returns...or maybe a plateau of somewhat enhanced performance is maintained. Everyone is thinking "Okay, well, that's done! Yay us! Now can we get back to doing our normal jobs?"

    Think of it like this. Let's say you have an upcoming class reunion and you want to lose 15lbs so that you look better than your former classmates. That's motivation. So you work out and eat salads and drink water...and you end up looking fabulous in front of everyone. But what about the day after your reunion? The motivation to keep working out and eating salads and drinking water is gone. The reunion has come and gone. Yes, you could look for something else to motivate you - maybe an upcoming blind date with someone your friends set you up with or you're changing jobs and wish to look confident, but again, once these goals are attained, you need to look, yet again, for something else to motivate you. This becomes exhausting and you're never fulfilled because you['re always working towards some new goal.

    So, how about this...replace the idea of motivation (which is really an external performance variable) and replace it with inspiration (an internal driver). Motivation pulls us along - it taunts us with a 'catch me if you can' attitude. Inspiration pushes us...it drives us...it consumes us. A successfully sustained change does not motivate...it inspires.

    But what does inspiration look like within an organization and how does it happen? Well, it won't happen overnight and maybe not within one month or even six months, but it can happen and it takes on the form of a positive, "can do", lived-and-breathed organizational culture. This may sound like a HUGE scope, especially if you think "Hey, I'm only in quality management." I tend to look at our role in "quality management" though more in the vein of "quality culture ambassadors" and our focus is about coaching and enabling teams to eat, sleep, and breathe quality in all things. Please note that "quality in all things" is NOT the same as "all things quality." The latter sounds very requirement-based where things are done because of quality (sounds a bit like a motivational factor here, doesn't it?), whereas the former is about a quality foundation in everything we do (hmmm...beginning to sound a bit like a inspirational line here and maybe the first steps towards forming a culture).

    To bring it down to a smaller, perhaps more management scope, I challenge you to think about some improvement you're trying to champion and ask yourself WHY you're doing it or WHY the organization wants it done. If the answer is along the lines of "It saves money/time/resources" or "It reduces production time/accident rates/overtime", dig deeper. The WHY needs to inspire...it needs to light a spark within you and the organization. If you have not yet seen Simon Sinek's "How great leaders inspire action", I highly encourage you to watch it...and think of applying it, maybe not just yet on an organizational level, but on a project level. The project, the improvement initiative, is not about what you are doing but WHY you are doing it.

    I'm hoping you know what 5S is - if not, you may wish to google the term. I once worked for a steel manufacturer and we tried to implement 5S. It was tough. We did audits and developed a bonus system based on the results of the 5S audits. So, work areas were cleaned up just in advance of audits and auditors were hated if the scores they gave caused a team to lose their bonus. We did away with the bonus system...audits became more about asking questions instead of telling people where to place their tools and equipment...we engaged people, we included people...and the handful of us who were tasked to implement 5S quickly grew to become an entire steel mill focused on building, not just a work environment, but a culture of 5S. In fact, when our CEO from South America came up for a visit, he toured the plant on a muddy day and tracked dirt from the outside into the baghouse. The baghouse is traditionally a very dirty area, but the operator who "ran" this part of the plant had adopted 5S to heart and you could eat off of the floor. Well, that CEO who tracked dirt into the baghouse looked at the operator who was holding a broom. We watched, expecting to see the operator sweep after the CEO. Nope. The operator handed the broom to the CEO and said "You made the mess, you clean it up. This is a clean baghouse." We all thought the operator would be fired on the spot, but the CEO realized that our 5S culture included a sense of pride in maintaining a clean steel mill and that people were responsible for the messes they made - he took the broom and cleaned up the dirt he had brought in. And our WHY behind 5S? It ran along the lines of "...we want you to feel like you're coming home not to a job."

    Job...a place for a pay cheque, tasks and check lists, hitting goals...motivational. Home...a place of comfort, trust, a reason to smile...inspirational.

    Like I said, it's all rather philosophical and perhaps there is no one correct response, but as long your organization focuses on motivating, not inspiring, their people, each and every change management activity you undertake is going to feel like a challenge.
     
  13. tony s

    tony s Well-Known Member

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    I'll definitely plagiarize most from these statements!:)
     
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