Hbr Article

In: Business and Management

Submitted By xuxu51233339
Words 5665
Pages 23

People Won't Change
Ifs a psychological dynamic called a "competing commitment" and until managers understand how it works and the ways to overcome it, they can't do a thing about change-resistant employees.

The Real Reason by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey


VERY MANAGER is familiar with the employee who just won't change. Sometimes it's easy to see whythe employee fears a shift in power, the need to learn new skills, the stress of having to join a new team. In other cases, such resistance is far more puzzling. An employee has the skills and smarts to make a change with ease, has shown a deep commitment to the company, genuinely supports the change-and yet, inexplicably, does nothing. What's going on? As organizational psychologists, we have seen this dynamic literally hundreds of times, and our research and analysis have recently led us to a surprising yet deceptively simple conclusion. Resistance

to change does not reflect opposition, nor is it merely a result of inertia. Instead, even as they hold a sincere commitment to change, many people are unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden cornpeting commitment The resulting dynamic equilibrium stalls the effort in what looks like resistance but is in fact a kind of personal immunity to change. When you, as a manager, uncover an employee's competing commitment, behavior that has seemed irrational and ineffective suddenly becomes stunningly sensible and masterful-but unfortunately, on behalf of a goal that conflicts with what you and even the employee are trying to achieve. You find out that the project leader who's


The Real Reason People Won't Change

dragging his feet has an unrecognized competing commitment to avoid the even tougher assignment-one he fears he can't handle-that might come his way next if he delivers too…...

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