December 2016: Make Resistance to Change Your Friend

In this Issue

Opening Remarks

Change is stressful whether you’re looking forward to it or dreading it.  And it can be especially stressful for leaders who are trying to enact change in their organizations in the face of resistance from employees, Board members or donors.  In this issue of Transforming Challenges, we offer some advice for leaders on how to transform resistance from foe to friend.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • The Reid Group has formed a strategic partnership with Tryon Clear View Group, a cost reduction company that finds savings in telecommunication, copiers, waste management and utilities for clients 98% of the time.  The only fee clients pay is 40% of any savings they realize.  If you are interested in this service, contact us at
  • Maureen Gallagher has a new contract with Region 9 of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to focus on creating a sustainable future for religious communities in Wisconsin.
  • John Reid and Carol Guenther have been hired again to teach at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry in July 2017, offering “Creative Conflict Management:  Paving the Road to Peacce in a Conflicted World.”  If you are interested, contact John for more information.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

The Reid Group webinar series

The Reid Group Webinar Series will return in late January 2017, so watch for the announcement of times and topics!

In the meantime, all of us at The Reid Group wish you and your loved ones

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

Feature Focus

Resistance to Change Can Be Your Friend

Maureen Gallagher and John Reid
Senior Consultants, The Reid Group

As change consultants, we have had the opportunity to work with many leaders and organizations around change and transition processes. Some of these processes have involved the merger of departments or even entire institutions, while others have focused on the transition of key leaders or the changing of organizational cultures.

No matter what the context, in many cases these change processes fail to achieve the desired results–because of high levels of resistance, poor planning or leadership or lack of a compelling vision.

You can turn these barriers to successful change into bridges to your preferred future by “befriending” the resistance that you will inevitably encounter. Becoming friends with the resistance you meet in any change process requires attention to the following:

Articulate a compelling picture that the change will bring about.
This involves capturing the key elements of the change and the identification of those who will be most affected by it. How will the change improve the position of the organization?

Explain “the why behind the what” of the anticipated change.
Communicating what factors influenced the decision, such as financial issues, personnel concerns or emerging opportunities, will help decrease skeptical resistance and increase new understandings.

Listen respectfully and encourage leaders and employees alike to share their most fervent concerns and hopes.
Active listening needs to focus on the impact the specific changes will have on certain people, departments or, if applicable, the organization as a whole.

Be transparent in your own leadership style and share more rather than less information to encourage trust.
Show concern for those who are having a hard time dealing with change. Imagine that you are walking in their shoes. If the change looks like it means more work, try to highlight the things the staff can stop doing once the change is implemented. Acknowledge that using new technology may mean a sharp learning curve for some, but the results in six months will show the value of the change.

Lay out the benefits of the proposed change as well as the costs of not moving forward.
Highlight the positive that is involved in the change and the downside of not changing–like law suits for negligence, or staff layoffs or general harm to the reputation of the institution.

Be sensitive to and patient with those struggling to accept the proposed changes, while refraining from judgmental behaviors.
Sometimes people struggle with change because they feel they do not have the capacity to implement the proposed change. Through participative dialogue, identify the capacity needs and provide education and training that will give those impacted by the change the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.

Create a positive road map for the future where you and your colleagues can move forward together.
Invite participation in the action plans that are needed to implement specific changes. Once the vision is established and it is clear what needs to happen to achieve the desired future, invite participation regarding who can do what by when, or who will team with whom to make the implementation successful.

Encourage leaders throughout your organization to practice active listening and effective two-way communication combined with a willingness to adjust the planned changed based on feedback and experience.
Increase regular communication during times of change. Include a Question and Answer column regarding the change in employee newsletters. Publicly commend individuals and teams who are implementing the change well. Express gratitude to all who are making the changes work, while acknowledging that change is not easy.

It is true that facilitating change involves hard work in order to produce a positive set of outcomes–and if we view resistance as our foe then the work will be even harder and take even longer. Strange as it may seem, viewing resistance to change as our friend is a key ingredient in the formula for having a change process help leaders in any organization experience growth-filled and productive results.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

bookcoverweb2Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from

And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.  Kathy Johnson, Editor, Transforming Challenges
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