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Overcoming resistance to change and training


The company has roughly 150 employees spread over various loactions and all locations are quite happy in carrying on the way that they always have as they have never had a training function before. I am wanting to look at getting their buy in and managing the change along with considering the politics that may come about from the different sites.
Joanne Hord

9 Responses

  1. Who Moved My Cheese?
    If you are looking to implement a change programme then I suggest you look at ”Who Moved My Cheese?”.

    This is an excellent title for overseeing change within organizations. If you are interested, and would like more information then please feel free to call me on the number below.


    Tom Bailey
    Mind Reources

  2. Do People Resist Change, Or Do They Resist Being Told What To Do
    People don’t resist change because it is change.
    This is a construct that has been developed to put the failure to embrace change on the shoulders of the workforce.

    The reason that change is resisted is because of the way it is applied.

    Management decide what the change should be then they tell the workforce what they should be doing to support it.

    But human beings hate being told what to do.

    When we are told what to do we will resist doing it simply because we don’t like being told what to do.

    What the change is or how good is immaterial. We will resist it because we are being told what to do.

    To overcome the resistance to change we simply have to stop telling people what to do.

    To do this we need to assume that no-one other than the workforce knows what changes are necessary.
    Find out from them what they need to be effective.

    Use their ideas and the change will happen.

    The change will be the right change to make because it comes from the workforce and because it comes from the workforce they will own it and they will support it.

    There is a book called “Breaking the Mould” which is a collection of stories about how this resistance to change was overcome.
    The stories tell what happened and what were the results in terms of performance improvement in real live situations.

    From these stories you should be able to infer what would work for you.

    The book can be viewed online at or it can be ordered direct from the publisher at


  3. What is the “training function” for?
    It may be worth asking youself, your boss and your “customers” what they think the “training function” is for.
    If it is solely to provide admin support to managers in the provision of training for their staff, then that presents a series of beneifts to “sell them”.
    If it is an adjunct of an HR function that aims solely to provide a dedicated resource for training activities then that provides a different series of benefits to sell them.
    If it is a professional service to help them to improve their performance then that provides another whole series of benefits to sell them.
    (Note that the third of the above is about output whereas the previous two are more about activity)
    what do they think they are losing and what do they perceive is the replacement?
    If the replacement AS THEY UNDERSTAND IT is greater than the loss then they are unlikely to resist.

  4. Focus on how learning can support the business objectives

    I have faced a similar situation. The original 150 employees now form part of a 450 strong workforce!

    My approach was to focus on business objectives – what are the different sites in the organisation expected to deliver? Once this is established you have a platform for discussing how learning can support the delivery of those objectives.

    I would recommend you make the distinction between learning and training. The CIPD’s recent report ‘Helping People Learn’ provides an excellent source of material for this.

    The approach I took was to introduce a self-directed learning process that was supported by peer groups. In a nutshell this involved individuals making their own decisions about what learning would give them and their part of the business the greatest payoff. For example, given the manufacturing department had business objectives concerning higher production for lower cost and greater quality, those with little experience of quality techniques chose to study those. Those who knew little about team development techniques chose to study that area and so on.

    Each participant in the programme met with their peer group every 4-6 weeks to get both support and challenge for their progress towards their learning goals. Each group had a facilitator to begin with to help the group build trust and deepen its quality of dialogue. Later on, the facilitator dropped out and the group continued by itself. This peer group support was critical to the success of the programme

    The advantages of this approach are plentiful. I will pick the ones that seem to apply to your situation. First, business managers see how learning is integral (not an add on) to the issues on the top of their agenda – delivering results. Second, no one is being told what they need training in- they are helped to decide that for themselves. Thirdly, peer-based learning groups build informal networks across the business and aids the quality of communication and cross functional / divisional understanding. Fourthly, perhaps 70% of the new knowledge and skills people wanted to acquire already existed inside the company, the remaining 30% was acquired from content experts who were brought in on an as needed basis to groups of learners who were keen to know what they had to say!

    If you would like more details I can provide you with a detailed case study and answer any questions you may have. My number is 01993 813720.

    Roger Martin

  5. What’s in it for me?
    Why would they want to change if what they have been doing so far has been successful (an assumption)?

    A critical key to ANY change is to get into the other person’s boots and be able to answer “What is in it for me?” What do they need? What do they stand to gain by using this new training function?

    You might also like to consider a couple of other keys – Choice and Control. The more choice I have and the more control I have, the more likely I am to accept and even drive the change.

  6. Managing Change
    In terms of managing change, there are always issues in getting people to see that there is something in it for them. With regards to the ‘Cheese’ book, I found the comments on Amazon very illuminating, especially the last one. If you want to read a book that helps you seek effective understanding of what inhibits change and helps you to move forward from a a managers as well as staff view, then try ‘New Rules for the New World’ by Eddie O’Beng. Having met the man I find this book a good look into the way he sees the landscape of change. But as you imply, you are likely to have to be a political negotiator, as much as anything else, which means find your allies and use them effectively.

  7. wins
    Work out what the benefits are of NOT changing for them, Joanne. There will be lots! Not losing face if they can’t perform in the new world, not wanting to put in more effort (training takes effort, after all), being keen to keep the skills they have currently (which they’re good at)….I bet the list is endless. Not to mention of course, dare I say it, the pretty poor reputation of some training organisations….
    Good luck!

  8. Different strokes for different folks…
    The comments here, my own included, remind me that there are two types of motivational thinking- Towards and Away From – wich have different balances in different individuals.

    The extreme Away From thinking wants to avoid the downsides of change, the extreme Towards wants to seek out the positive benefits of change.

    So, we need to figure out both sides and present them both – thus capturing everyone.


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