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The real job of leaders in times of change

Understanding why people resist change is vital for leaders attempting to shepherd staff through significant workplace transformations, according to Roberto Fernandez, a professor in work and organisation studies at MIT

Speaking to bluenotes on video and podcast, Fernandez said the emotional side of change was often overlooked by businesses but understanding and acting on staff expectations is important in having them embrace the new workplace normal. 

" If we understand the ways in which people resist change, [we can learn how to] we allay those fears and at the same time make people excited about the future."

"There’s an emotional component which is that humans feel nostalgic; they feel comfortable in the past,” he said.

“The leader’s job, once they understand that this is a more-complex story than simply hitting send on an email, is to actually make people at ease with the idea that ‘we’re going to be part of the solution moving forward’.”

Fernandez said change naturally makes people at uneasy as they wonder about their individual roles in new workplace setups.

“There are basic psychological processes that are going to be brought out at times of change,” he said. 

Fernandez said leaders need to find the ‘golden thread’ during change – a line or theme which can be drawn from the past to the future through the transition.

“We know that people resist change,” he said. “But if we understand the ways in which people resist change, the fears for example, [we can learn how to] we allay those fears and at the same time make people excited about the future.”

He also touched on tips for businesses embarking on transformational journeys. Watch the video or listen to the podcast above to find out more.

Carina Parisella is bluenotes innovation editor

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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