In ‘Resistance to Change. Fear of Temporary Incompetence’ … I shared some ideas on how to work with resistance to change:

Fear of temporary incompetence
  • During the transition process, you do not feel competent because you have given up the old way and have not yet mastered the new one. Edgar Schein

Make Failure and Learning an Objective Resistance to Change - Create-Learning Team Building and Leadership

If the culture of the company is Failure Is Unacceptable and people that fail will be punished…It is nearly impossible for people to change to a new way of doing things. Every time a change is expected, temporary incompetence happens.

If the company and people accept this as a path to personal mastery, the temporary incompetence is accepted as part of the process and the resistance to change can be lessened.


How to work with this?

Make failure and learning part of the objectives
  • While discussing their concerns I heard that in this workplace, failure to meet defined objectives can be grounds for negative performance reviews.
  • With some more talking and agreement from their managers we made Failure and Learning part of the managers yearly evaluation.
  • We actually added in their performance evaluation “What areas did you make your best attempt at and failed?”; “What did you learn from your effort?”; “The area you made you best attempt at, what are you now applying that you were not applying 3 months ago?”; “When you are applying the learning next year what improvement will be obvious?”

Once we created an environment, with performance support systems, that openly encouraged failure and learning it made it an acceptable objective. The management had to continue to follow-up and encourage the failure and learning…some did better than others.

What do you think?

Does your company view failure as punishment? What can be done to encourage temporary incompetence in your work?

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