The Terror of Change

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

In my work on resistance, I talk about Level 2, an emotional reaction to change. The root of this is often fear. Fear that I’ll lose my job, I’ll lose face, or I’ll lose control. But it’s getting worse. Level 2 is now fear to the nth power.

The New York Times (2/08/09) reported that Canon in Japan was terminating contract workers. These are people who get none of the protections that a regular employee might get. Many of these workers live in company provided apartments. They were told they are losing their jobs and will need to move out of these apartments. It’s winter in Japan, and one of the affected workers said that he could die. Literally die. He has no home and no income.

I believe the economic crisis has exacerbated Level 2 reactions to change. The least disturbance to even a tenuous status quo could evoke terror. So, if you are leading a change in your organization, please pay attention the fear that is in the air already. It could have a significant impact on what happens.