Inside Implementation: Resistance to Change

By Kendra Stea and Robert S. Watters | 0 comments

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Our responsibility, as Certified Instructors, can be an extremely rewarding experience, but there are also opportunities that may present challenges as we begin training and implementing the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® program.

It is important to recognize, as change agents, that Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training goes beyond the classroom and into the daily functions of the employee. This program has a profound impact on CHANGE for participants: CHANGE in how they personally view or perceive crisis, CHANGE in their personal/professional approach to managing crisis, and CHANGE in the organizational expectation in how they respond to crisis. This change can cause participants anxiety and, at times, resistance to the implementation process.

Understanding resistance as a natural part of the change process and having a plan will help us reduce participants' frustration and increase our implementation success. We can view CHANGE as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Just like we view TRAINING as an ongoing process [PDF].

Understanding Resistance


The best strategy to use in understanding and planning for resistance in your program is attempting to see things from the participant's viewpoint. We can do this by setting aside our view of the program and purpose and understanding the participants' view. There are numerous reasons why participants may resist. Some may be:

  • Different priorities in responsibilities
  • Limitations in their own abilities
  • Different opinions on how to treat others
  • Fear of losing something they value (e.g., previous training)
  • Personal concerns on how this will impact them
  • Concern on their change in job functions

How do we generate more meaning as a Certified Instructor for our employees or colleagues, reduce staff frustration, and increase our implementation success? How do we, as Instructors, minimize resistance to change and foster an environment of acceptance with new or better strategies? The key is to understand and recognize the developmental stages of acceptance.

Stages of Acceptance

Basic sociological and educational research has paved the way for understanding staff resistance and fostering an environment of success. Dormant (1999) has suggested that acceptance is accomplished in five stages. He also provides strategies we can take as Certified Instructors to help move participants through this process.

The five stages and strategies to help participants accept change are:

Stages of Acceptance Strategies for Instructor
Awareness: Participants may have either a passive awareness or little/no information or opinion about the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program. Advertise: Promote simple and catchy information to promote the program. You can do this with flyers, email teasers, or newsletters. Make sure the content provided connects to the employees' needs. This is a great time for administration to announce its support for the training and be the first to sign up to attend.
Curiosity: Participants may begin to have more curiosity about the program. How will the program impact them? What new demands will it make on them or their roles? Inform: Identify and assess participants' concerns prior to teaching the program. Provide clear information that emphasizes the advantages of the training but recognizes challenges. Examples may include providing a pamphlet titled Top 10 FAQ by Participants or giving a presentation with the relevant information answered. As long as the information you provide responds to participants' needs, they are more likely to remain positive.
Visualization: Participants move from a personal focus to a job focus. They may begin to have concerns regarding how the program will work on the job and how it may impact the team. Demonstrate: Provide success stories or testimonials of others who have used the program. Provide data that may show a reduction in restraint/seclusion. Organize promotional sessions to give a flavor or show The Preventive Techniques video/DVD as an educational tool prior to the training. It is the time to demonstrate examples of success. Contact CPI for additional resources.
Try Out: Participants are ready to experience the training and are interested in how the strategies will work. If they gain the skills and confidence in the program content, they will continue to be positive. They are ready for hands-on instruction. Train: This is when you actually begin to conduct the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program. Scheduling the program in advance is important. Providing skill cards and checklists are important, especially with the physical intervention techniques. Give participants an overview of ongoing training and have pre-planned practice or rehearsal/drill sessions scheduled. Participants are interested in follow-up. They will want to know who to go to for questions.
Use: Participants begin to actively use the information on the job and have questions regarding its use. Support: This is when you start conducting review sessions and providing organized ways for participants to get their questions answered. It is also critical at this point to complete the feedback loop to your participants about the success you are seeing because of their efforts. Begin strategizing for formal refreshers. Take advantage of CPI's toll-free Instructor Services number for problem-solving opportunities.

By understanding the precipitants of your colleagues' resistance and approaching the change process from a positive perspective, we can create implementation success. Remember to show respect, create a team, get support, be realistic, and always have a plan. As Instructors, we play an integral role in transforming the change process from something perceived as daunting and scary, to a positive, engaging, and empowering situation. As always, CPI's staff are here to walk with you through this process—just give us a call or send an email!

Dormant, D. (1999). Implementing human performance technology in organizations. In H. D. Stolovitch, & E. J. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (2nd ed., pp. 237–259). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer


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