canstockphoto9138506All leaders should watch for the warning signs of trouble amidst change. They are easy to spot if you are paying attention. Each person affected by change should also pay attention to personal warning signs that you are having difficulty with change. It is sure a sure path to finding trouble.

Understanding the warning signs of trouble amidst change is critical to success. Just like road signs, they warn us of dangerous curves, road conditions, or construction zones lying ahead of us. If we fail to recognize and respond to them, we will experience the consequences.

This is the second blog in my series on Building Trust and Embracing Change. In today’s business environment, building trust with employees and helping them to embrace change are going to become critical factors of success. Building trust can be challenging because it requires time to develop. Constant change often erodes the ability to build trust.

Additionally, some people are not prone to like change causing additional challenges for leadership. It is important to recognize warning signs that indicate problems with building trust and embracing change. Whether you are in leadership or the one impacted by change, you should know some warning signs of trouble. They may be subtle, but indicate potential problems.

Here are some warning signs of trouble amidst change:

  • An initial sign of trouble often starts start with a sense of personal resistance. It is the sick feeling in the pit of the stomach or some similar physical reaction when one first hears change is on the way.
  • Personal resistance may be followed by anger. Psychologists often call this the first step in the grief process (Anger; Denial; Bargaining; Depression; Acceptance- If you find yourself in this cycle, it would be a good time to seek help.) Anger is a strong emotion with many underlying causes. It should not be left unaddressed.
  • A common reaction is quietness. It is a sign of caution and withdrawal. It is also a sign of disengagement that leads to lower buy-in and productivity when it extends over time. A further danger sign following quietness is a failure to seek understanding and ramifications of the coming change due to personal withdrawal.
  • As time passes, many people may experience resentment. Resentment always has a target in the organization. The target could be a person, or an idea. It can also lead to bitterness or passive-aggressive tendencies that erode trust. It is not always visible to the target and may subconscious. In some cases, subconscious resentment may be felt by, and visible to, the target destroying trust and opening the door to retaliation.
  • If change does not make sense, some people begin asking multiple questions. This can be due to one’s desire to better understand the reasons for change or simply to reconcile inconsistencies not addressed in the explanation. The questions may take the form of gossip and speculation. This often results is alliances or coalitions organized against the change leaders or the change itself.

Each of these feelings and behaviors are warning signs of trouble and become a distraction if not actively addressed. Early intervention is critical. Awareness of a problem is the first step to addressing it. A common approach by leadership is the belief that, “They will get over it.” Yes, they may, but not without cost.

Can you add some other warning signs of trouble amidst change? 

Warning Signs of Trouble amidst Change

2 thoughts on “Warning Signs of Trouble amidst Change

  • Steve, thank you for leading out by starting this conversation. It is relevant in my life at this very time.
    The change I am looking at is self made based on changing desires and thoughts.
    “Other warning signs of trouble amist change” could be not communicating the change-plan as it is currently organized. Backed with acknowledgement that the plan itself is subject to change.
    Likewise it should be communicated why the change is necessary. In the business environment it could be legislation that was passed, or changing market trends.
    Communication of why the change is occurring may be as important as what is changing and when.
    My .02

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, your comments on communication are very relevant. This topic will be popping up at different points.

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