How to Diagnose Gaps and Manage Resistance
Written by Tim Creasey
How do you reinforce a change once it has been implemented? The third phase of the Prosci Three-Phase Process outlines three steps you need to take:
- Collecting and analyzing employee feedback
- Diagnosing gaps and managing resistance to change
- Implementing corrective actions and celebrating success
The second stage of reinforcing change, diagnosing gaps and managing resistance has three steps:
- Determine the root cause of resistance
- Develop plans to address these root causes
- Prepare sponsors and coaches to manage resistance
It is important to understand that diagnosing gaps and managing resistance is an ongoing activity through the project, not just in one stage. Diagnosing gaps and managing resistance is essential in both the preparing for change and managing change stages of the process, not only in the reinforcing change stage.
1. Determine the Root Cause of Resistance
Based on the feedback you gathered from employees after the change was implemented, you may have already determined the root cause of the problem. Continue to ask the question, "Why is this happening?" until you have found the root cause of the problem.
Use the Prosci ADKAR Model to determine if the root cause of the performance gap is awareness, desire, knowledge, ability or reinforcement. If you are not familiar with the ADKAR Model, read the ADKAR Model Overview eBook. This will provide an initial category for the problem. In some cases pockets of resistance can be traced to a single manager or supervisor who is resistant to the change. For additional guidance on managing resistance, read Five Tips for Managing Resistance.
2. Develop Corrective Action Plans
Determine the appropriate steps to take to address the root cause of the performance gap. For each problem area, prepare the following for your primary sponsor or steering committee:
- Findings from feedback and compliance audit
- Root cause of these performance gaps
- Corrective action plan
Develop corrective actions based on the ADKAR Model and your root cause analysis:
If awareness was the root cause, examine past communications and messages to this group. Create messages that address any gaps in building awareness around why the change is needed.
If desire was the root cause, then assess the incentives or consequences that would create motivation to change. Are these incentives or consequences sufficient? Do adjustments to the incentives or consequences need to be made? Are these incentives and consequences understood? Have your coaching plans and resistance management plans been effective?
If knowledge was the root cause, examine the education programs that are available as well as the attendance and effectiveness of these programs. Is additional work needed? Do current programs need to be redesigned? Are there gaps in the knowledge and skills being taught to employees?
If ability was the root cause, personal coaching plans and/or personal assistance may be required. What on-the-job assistance is offered? Can employees get immediate help? What happens when a situation arises that does not strictly match what they were taught?
If reinforcement was the root cause, what systems, values or reward systems reinforce the change? Do the systems allow employees to do the process both ways? Do reports and performance evaluations encourage following the new processes, systems and job roles? Are consequences in place for not following the new processes, systems or job roles?
Seek the input and approval of your primary sponsor or steering committee before implementing these plans.
3. Enable Sponsors and Coaches
Prepare managers and supervisors with the background information and tools they will need to manage resistance and implement corrective action.
In most cases, the best person to resolve a point of resistance with an employee or group of employees will be their direct supervisor or highest level manager. If the supervisor was not identified as the root cause of the problem, then provide this supervisor with the following:
- The problem you need addressed
- Why this problem needs addressed (the impact that it is having on the change)
- What steps you need taken
If job aides or tools are needed, provide these tools to the supervisor as well. If the supervisor has not had formal training in change management, you will need to spend time coaching this supervisor on the tools and processes for working with employees (such as a coaching plan and resistance management plan).
Now that you have developed your corrective action plans, the next step is implementing the corrective actions in order to resolve your performance gaps. The last stage of resistance management focuses on these steps and includes why celebrating success is so important.