Why do people and companies find it difficult to change?

If change is part of life, why do we sometimes find it hard to accept? In a world where everything is changing at a very fast pace, there are people and companies that resist certain changes, especially those that involve leaving our comfort zone. What makes us resist them?
This week we interviewed Jaime Bárcenas, professor of Talent Management at several universities in Colombia and a specialist in Human Resources, to talk about why it is difficult for people and companies to change.

Welcome, Jaime. To begin, please tell us who you are and what you are passionate about.

I am a teacher, consultant and facilitator in organizational and personal strategy and change. I accompany people and organizations in the exploitation of their maximum potential and in the definition and execution of significant strategic and human changes.

We live in times in which everything changes and there is a lot of uncertainty. For example: digital transformations, new ways of working, inflation, etc. So why do we find it so difficult to accept change, both at a personal and company level? What factors prevent us from doing so?

Organizations have seen the urgent need to transform themselves to adapt to new realities, among which we can highlight: digitalization to be more productive and efficient, new generations that value and prioritize other types of activities and responsibilities, the post pandemic situation on which generated changes in the way of thinking and balancing personal and work life.
This generated in people a lot of uncertainty and lack of knowledge and confidence in what the future holds for them. These three aspects: uncertainty, lack of knowledge and confidence immediately generate a reaction in people to avoid at all costs that these exogenous situations shake their peace of mind, so they "close" or "block" themselves to understand the reasons for the change. If I feel distrustful, without knowledge and uncertain about the future, I look for excuses to stay in my "comfort zone" that keeps me "safe" because I know and trust what I have been doing for so long.
This causes a short circuit with organizations because their purpose is to improve their efficiency, productivity and be more profitable. However, people are looking for peace of mind, stability and growth (just to mention the basics) and the changes that arise from the company go against people's purposes.

And a company that wants to make a change (for example: office, management software, corporate identity...), where can it start to avoid this short circuit?

First, you have to make a connection with people's wants, needs and motivators (if you want to keep the same people who will drive you to change). If there is no connection between both parties, the change tends to fail. More than 90% of the changes in organizations turn into failure because there was not an adequate change management.

And what can Human Resources areas do to convince both managers and employees to start a change when it is really necessary? For example: digitize the company, update some policies, promote a new work methodology?

What they can do is to perform a proper change management. This means:

  • Establish a clear vision and purpose for change
  • Create a network of change through people who will serve as facilitators to interact with people who are for or against change
  • Establish a clear program of accompaniment identifying specific situations or moments of "affectation" to people.
  • Create a good training program to understand what is coming and a communication plan with all the necessary detail and using the most appropriate media to link all people to this change.
  • Continuous follow-up through facilitators and immediate intervention in case of visualizing possible alerts with individuals or the company.

Finally, please provide us with some general guidelines for personnel management in times of change and uncertainty.

Helping them to know how to visualize and understand the future (to reduce uncertainty), as well as to understand that the responsibility for development and growth lies with the people and not with the organization. This would imply that the company provides them with the means and the people are in charge of learning what they visualize about the future (to expand their knowledge). Finally, by understanding the future and preparing themselves individually to accept and embrace it, they will have the confidence to live in a habitat of constant change.
We will be talking to Jaime Bárcenas this Thursday, March 2 at 5:00 p.m. (Spanish time) about this topic in an interview that you can watch on our YouTube channel or on LinkedIn. We look forward to seeing you!

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