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Overcome Your Team’s Resistance to Change

Many teams suffer from “active inertia” — the tendency to seek comfort in the old ways of doing things, even when the world around you is changing. To help your employees meet the moment, there are two techniques you might try.

  • The “foot-in-the-door” technique: Start by asking people to do something small or easy. By agreeing to the request, and then meeting it, they develop a sense of commitment and confidence that makes them more enthusiastic about agreeing to the next (bigger) request. In other words, the path to big change is paved by lots of small steps and little bets — each of which builds on what’s come before.
  • The “door-in-the-face” technique: With this approach, you ask your employees to do something even more demanding than what you actually have in mind. The idea is that by setting aspirations that seem extreme, you can push people to perform at a level — and creatively solve problems — that would have otherwise felt unachievable. This often pushes people to imagine innovations or work-arounds they wouldn’t think of in the normal course of business.
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