Organizational Change – A reaction that releases Fear

Yesterday, after publishing the third post of the “Surviving the organization” series, our VP of Operation, Eng. Ian Carlos Hernandez asked me to define, as per my opinion, the most critical force endogenous to the organizational change process and its impact on the members of the organization. In order to answer his question, I would like to define Organizational Change as an exothermic reaction, which by definition is a reaction that releases energy through light or heat. In this post, I would like to talk about a critical force called – FEAR.

Yes, within the context of the organization I would like to define the energy released as fear. There are enough evidence-based studies that demonstrate that at least 70% of organizational changes or transformations initiatives fail because of the fear energy generated in the reaction or process. There are many factors contributing to the release of this “negative energy” within the organization, among them: a fragile culture that isn’t aligned with the mission, leadership team out of sync, misaligned, lack of participation and buy-in, under-communicating a compelling vision, incongruent communication, opposing priorities, lack of training or resources, organization history, and so on. But one very critical roadblock standing in the way of bringing a change vision to fruition is what I will call brain change disassociation.

Brain Change Dissociation occurs when someone disconnects from some part of himself or herself or the environment which includes its organization. It can occur in a number of different ways, including disconnection from one’s emotions, body sensations, memories, senses, etc. A normal and common phenomenon, dissociation can happen in mild forms even when there is no imminent danger or stress. Dissociation is something we all do, and it is a vital part of our ingrained survival system. It is a part of the system that helps us to cope with stressful situations, which may otherwise feel overwhelming (Steinberg and Schnall, 2001). It is built in and is not pathological (Ross and Halpern, 2011). However, when trauma occurs, sometimes this built-in system disconnects to a greater degree in an effort to protect the individual from traumatic material, body sensations, emotions, or memories that may be overwhelming, impacting negatively the individual and its workplace.

So, knowing Ian Carlos, the next question will be, how do the leaders and managers, as a change agents, can diminish Brain Change Dissociation and keep the team engaged and energized to keep them moving forward to achieve company goals + objectives?

For that my dear “grasshopper” you will have to wait to the Surviving the Organization – Part Five!

Dr. Thomas Agrait- VORTEX – NeuroGneering


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