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CHANGE days later professing sorrow for their actions. Then, the cycle would continue, until one day the battered woman showed up at the shelter. My sister wondered why such women didn’t leave these relationships. After endless rounds of battering, hearing apologies, and then being battered again, surely these victims knew the situation was not going to change. Yet, most had extreme difficulties doing what observers thought to be an obviously needed change – leaving the relationship. A minor percentage of battered spouses were afraid that the abusive mate would track them down. For the rest, the fear of the unknown was greater than the fear of the next beating or potential repercussions of leaving the relationship. The Hardship of Making a Better Life These victims were afraid of starting over in a new community, finding new homes, seeking new work, and living on their own. As difficult as it was to endure the battering, they perceived greater hardship upon leaving the relationship. The same situation occurs in companies, communities, even in entire cultures. John Kenneth Galbraith, Ph.D., a noted economist from Harvard University in Massachusetts, wrote The Nature of Mass Poverty. While researching his book, he visited four continents to determine why some civilizations remain poor. He wondered why some groups had stayed poor for centuries. Galbraith found that poor societies accommodate their poverty. As hard as it is to live in poor conditions, unfortunately people find it more difficult to accept the hardship – the challenge – involved in making a better living. Hence, they accommodate their poverty, and it lingers from year to year, decade to decade, and even century to century. Resistance Despite Awareness You likely don’t face anything like those situations mentioned above, yet the demons keeping you or your team from embracing change may be just as onerous. People resist change most of the time, even in this era in which presumably people are already acclimated to change. When an individual knows and understands that a change will be for the better, he or she is still likely to resist for reasons such as these: • Embracing the change will take time and effort that the participants may not be willing to invest. • Taking on something new largely means giving up something else, and that something else is familiar, comfortable, and predictable. • Annoyance or fear of disruption may prohibit people from taking the first step even when it is widely acknowledged that the net result will be to their extreme benefit. • If the change is imposed externally, as opposed to internally derived, resistance may endure as a result of ego related issues. A Tale of Resistance Years ago, I worked for a management consulting firm and became a project manager. At the conclusion of each consulting engagement we had to write a report for the client. This was the most cumbersome, labor-intensive aspect of the job. I had been in consulting for five years and had written my share of reports. I was looking for ways to do my work faster and easier. One of the staff consultants had a pocket dictator he used occasionally to dictate letters. I asked him if I could momentarily borrow it and he said, “Sure.” I became proficient within about two minutes and surmised that nearly anyone could do the same. I asked him if I could borrow it for the day if he wasn’t going to be using it and he said, “Go ahead.” Armed and Potent Our office was equipped with transcription equipment although hardly anyone knew it. I decided to dictate my very next report. I loathed writing longhand; my handwriting wasn’t very good, and it took me forever. When I started using the dictation equipment miraculous things happened. Soon, I was able to do my job in 30% of the time that it used to take. Incredibly, my 40-hour work week now only required 12 hours. Something seemed askew. Here was a device that worked so well and so easily and no one knew about it. I told my co-workers of this miraculous equipment. I suggested that everybody adopt it. I sang the virtues of dictation equipment to my boss as well. Surprisingly, nobody took me up on my suggestions to give dictation a try. Let Resistant Dogs Lie Everyone was attached to writing reports long hand and then submitting them for word processing. So, I became silent. I decided that I would refrain from functioning as an advocate of dictation equipment within my office. If others didn’t want to accept a new way of doing things that could vastly improve their productivity and their lives, so be it. I wouldn’t be stopped from excelling. For the next three years, I used dictation equipment extensively. I dictated every single thing that I needed to write and save on computer. One of our administrative staff transcribed the mini-cassettes. With a weekly average of 28 hours freed, I used the time to read, research, or help others in the office. I got large raises and promotions several times during this three-year period, and, within three years, I was the third-ranking professional in the company. I supervised eight people directly, was a project director as well as a project manager, and ultimately was given the title of vice president of marketing. It’s Your Option I could have ordered my staff to use dictation equipment, but I refrained. Instead, I conducted sessions where I demonstrated how to use the equipment. I let everyone get familiar with it and then let them decide whether they would use dictation equipment to do their reports or revert back to longhand. Around this time, PCs were starting to appear in offices in large numbers. Some people started typing their reports, which was a bit faster than writing but still woefully inefficient compared to dictating. All eight members of my staff reverted back to longhand writing or, in a few cases, typing on a computer. No one had anything to do with dictation equipment except perhaps to appease me. I let it go. I knew that the productivity of my staff was less than what it could be. However, my projects were still turning out well, coming in on time and under budget. I was still getting promoted, earning bonuses, and being considered a superstar in the firm. Yet none of my staff adopted the technology when given the opportunity. To this day, I am amazed at the diffidence people show in embracing change even when given instruction, follow up, encouragement, time to make the transition, and every other opportunity to embrace the new way of doing things. Adopt and Win Looking at the larger question, how many of us, throughout the Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 11.2014 Submit your Articles 11


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