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Building Organizational Synergy by Overcoming Resistance to Change

Updated: May 1, 2022


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In this post and its accompanying podcast, I will share some insights about building organizational synergy, pointing out typical symptoms when synergy is lacking, and highlighting the importance of communication and leadership to create greater synergy.


Organizational synergy and change management are deeply connected. Synergy boosts organizational resilience, which is the ability of organizations to withstand changes in their environment and still function.


The following quote by Linda Hoopes, speaker, author, and consultant for organizational change, really helps bring my thoughts into focus, “Because of turbulence caused by a changing environment and the impact this has on the work setting, the most important benefit derived from synergistic work relationships may be the ability to invest in coping with change. Synergy does not grant individuals or work teams immunity from the stress of change. What it does provide is the optimal use of resources necessary to react to change sooner and more effectively, while sustaining high levels of productivity and performance.” (Hoopes, 2022)


Organizational synergy describes the seamless flow of individuals, teams, and processes necessary to deliver outstanding products/services and maintain a positive reputation. “Synergistic” relationships produce results greater than what each part could have produced independently. The term synergistic is derived from the Greek root “sun,” meaning together, and “ergon,” meaning “work.”


Symptoms


We have witnessed unprecedented changes that have revolutionized working, managing businesses, and competing in markets these past twenty years. Our ability to adjust to change may not have evolved as rapidly as our technology, but we can navigate light speed changes more effectively when coordinating our collective resources. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

There are many ingredients to good cross-functional synergy: communication, leadership, engagement, and teamwork, to mention a few. Every time we ask people and teams to alter how they operate to create greater synergy, we go through some changes. For this reason, a starting point when leveraging synergy is understanding how change affects those involved.

When organizational dynamics become antagonistic rather than collaborative, persistent gossip and negative remarks might indicate a lack of flow. Complaints are often outer expressions of unexpressed personal needs and values that struggle to find a representative voice. Rather than talking openly about issues, frustration builds up, and spreads like wildfire.

As change requires continuous adaptation, overlapping roles and responsibilities may indicate a lack of organizational synergy, creating an unclear workplace where information and know-how get stored, and stuck, in silos. Sound familiar? You are not alone.


Communication

Working alongside clients, I often witness the assumption that top management, those responsible for the company’s strategic direction, should provide all the answers. While that might hold a lot of truth, in my experience, the best starting point when leveraging organizational synergy is creating a space of listening.


Measuring the organizational pulse entails embracing the multitude of points of view provided by different functions and roles. The great thing about listening to people, their troubles, and suggestions, is cutting the darkness of change through the high beams of human relations and self-awareness. Change becomes possible.


As a general rule of thumb, lack of information and the fear of the unknown is often responsible for resisting change. When people do not fully understand the reasons behind a request and how it will benefit them, they often become anxious, fearful, and skeptical.

Suppose you are the person initiating change. Over time, you may have repeatedly noticed the same issue and the urgency to do something about it. There are some questions that I suggest clarifying before hopping on the change bandwagon, preferably with the assistance of an external change management practitioner who can provide an objective analysis of the organizational system:

  • How do I help others during change?

  • How am I going to deal with resistance to change?

  • How much time should I give people to change?

Navigating change is a process that requires experience, knowledge, and tremendous patience. Frequently, professionals jump on it with unrealistic expectations and a timeframe that does not match the needed timescale. People do not proceed at the same pace, and change is possible through relentless efforts and realistic expectations.


Those spearheading change often feel powerless while trying to build greater organizational synergy. Feeling frustrated is perfectly normal, particularly when you have been trying for a while to help everyone transition. However, feelings of frustration toward employees who appear stubborn and unwilling to change may indicate a lack of understanding of change's psychological and social dynamics.


Leadership


From a leadership perspective, the more you hide the reasons behind a change program, the fewer people come on board. When leaders create a space for listening in which people can voice their points of view and difficulties, they become role models by embodying the behaviors they seek to promote. People look for consistency and walk the talk rather than rhetoric.

Questions to build organizational synergy by overcoming resistance to change:

  • What do I need to disclose to them to be on board?

  • Are we communicating the reasons behind the change?

  • How are we supporting each other throughout change?


PITY PARTY OVER


I have learned that feeling self-indulgently sorry, alias a pity party, has a necessary time and space when helping people transition through change. We can find essential truths about ourselves that eventually guide us to better grounds through a bit of rumination and introspection. A pity party over is when you are ready to move on.


When you feel frustrated by change and sense that things are not proceeding and unfolding as fast as you wish, keep in mind that communication and leadership are the queen and king of change:

  • Communicating the reason behind the change and keeping people in the loop help them overcome the fear and discomfort of changing.

  • As a leader, endorse change by sending a clear message that changes are here to stay. It’s not enough to ask people to change, but your behavior must model the change you seek.

  • Reassure people their discomfort is normal and shared by everyone. Give specific tasks to help employees to understand how change translates operationally.


ASK STEPHEN


Do you want to navigate change efficiently? Let's talk!

stephen.matini@alygn.company


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https://www.alygn.company/


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Get inspired


Hoopes, L., 2022. Change Management Classics: Synergy | Resilience Alliance. [online] Resiliencealliance.com. Available at: <https://resiliencealliance.com/change-management-classics-synergy/> [Accessed 20 April 2022]


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