The Fear of Change
What’s preventing your organisation from being able to react quickly to industry or market changes asks
Why is there resistance whenever you try to implement a new idea? How come the best-laid plans of leadership always seem to end with your people reverting to the old ways of doing things, as soon as they leave the training room?
Could it be that old enemy of organisational change: fear?
McKinsey & Company claim that 70 percent of large transformation initiatives fail to meet their goals and here we look at why that might be. THE REALITY OF FEAR Fear is one of the most basic human instincts. It harks back to our primitive past, when our fears were raw and based on survival – every day was a struggle to find food, shelter, and safety.
Our brains haven’t changed much since but our circumstances have. So we experience the same fear responses but they are activated by different triggers.
Neuroscientists have shown that the amygdala area of the brain is more active under threat. This is essentially the ‘fear centre’ of the brain and activity here restricts blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the ‘higher’ thinking processes. We rely on these ‘higher’ processes to make well-considered decisions.
So, when a new manager is unexpectedly introduced, you are suddenly told to start using a new system or process without explanation, or rumours of redundancy start to spread, our brain’s fear centre is activated. A ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response releases stress chemicals and our more primitive brain takes over.
When change is imposed suddenly or without apparent reason, the stress response is natural. But in this state, it is very difficult to produce positive