Addressing Change-o-Phobia: Leading Change Up and Down the Org Chart

Addressing Change-o-Phobia: Leading Change Up and Down the Org Chart

Leading Change Effectively • Reducing Change apprehension • Navigating Organizations

Upcoming Course: May 9, 2024
Location: UT Austin
Cost: $1,000

Course Description

Leading changes to an organization’s operations, policies, and/or culture requires a keen understanding of emotions, organizations, and persuasive strategies. Drawing on rhetorical theory and organizational psychology, this workshop will help you understand why people resist change, how to plan out the steps for introducing changes, and how to design communications promoting change directed at different audiences and phases of the change process. This class involves case studies and ample time for discussion of participant issues.

The art of persuasion—rhetoric—originated 2,500 years ago with the dawn of democracy in Athens. Ever since, scholars have recognized that persuading someone to change an attitude is doable, changing a belief is hard, and changing actions is a mighty challenge. Even when people—and organizations—know that their routines are counter-productive, they resist change because they are afraid of the unknown.

By exploring attitudes, learning some theory, discussing case studies, writing about change in their own organizations, and role-playing, participants will:

  • Become more aware of their own approach to change;
  • Better understand the sources of resistance to change;
  • Learn and practice strategies for framing changes to stakeholders, including peers, subordinates, and managers;
  • Learn strategies for managing change over time.
Course Leader(s)

Davida Charney, PhD, has been a professor in UT Austin’s Department of Rhetoric and Writing since 1997. In the early part of her career, her teaching and research focused on technical and professional communication. At UT, she broadened her focus to rhetorical theory and the persuasive strategies used by scholars across the disciplines. Lately, she has turned her focus to Jewish Studies and the use of persuasion in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish liturgy. For HDO, she has offered workshops in change management and has worked with master’s students on writing their capstone projects.


Marcia Silverberg, MSW, is the owner and founder of HR Directions, the consulting firm that she founded in 1998. HR Directions helps its clients align their people strategies with their business goals to achieve organizational success. Frequently this involves coaching executives and facilitating important meetings. Marcia retired in 2013 as Vice President, HR Strategic Initiatives and System Office Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for Ascension Health, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in the country with over 150,000 employees.

Learning Objectives

Key lessons covered in this course are:


  • What counts as “change” and what are its phases? What reactions are typical at each phase? Why do players interpret reality so differently? How can resistance become helpful for creating change?
  • How can change-agents form coalitions? How can “rhetorical listening” foster openness? How can “ownership talk” foster receptivity? How can “reciprocity talk” increase commitment?
  • How can unexpected conflicts and obstacles be addressed? How can “synergy rhetoric” foster consensus on priorities? What kinds of concessions and counter-arguments are most effective?
  • What are the keys to successful change? Why do most transformation efforts fail? How can change be implemented over time while preventing backsliding?
Details & Registration

Location: UT Austin
Upcoming Course(s): May 9, 2024
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 0.6 CEUs will be awarded upon completion of this program (six hours of instruction)
Registration Deadline: May 6, 2024

One-Day Seminar Pricing:

Registration fee includes all course materials, catering (lunch and refreshments), WiFi access, and parking.

  • Standard Registration: $1,000
  • UT System Staff/Alumni Registration: $750
  • Educator, Nonprofit, Government, Military Registration: $750

Get employer support! We’ve gathered resources to help you make the case for your employer to support your HDO education.

If you have questions prior to registering, please see our Professional Training FAQ or contact or contact Andrew M. Vasquez, HDO’s Enrollment & Success Coordinator at

Who Should Participate?

The majority of participants in our Seminars and Certificate Programs are mid- and upper-level professionals working in the business, nonprofit, government, or military sectors; however, professionals at all levels of experience are welcome to participate. There are no prerequisites for enrolling in an HDO Professional Seminar.

While all HDO Seminars are developed with wide-ranging applicability in mind, the following individuals and groups will likely find Addressing Change-o-Phobia Up and Down the Org Chart most directly relevant to their work:


  • Senior/Executive Leadership
  • Middle Management
  • Team Leaders & Supervisors
  • Human Resources/Talent Management Directors & Managers
  • Change Management Specialists and Consultants

Being able to apply skills to my own scenario means that I actually felt like I was getting something done, rather than just digesting content. I really appreciate the frameworks and checklists I can use to move change forward and make it successful.

Adrienne Arroyo, Science Secondary Specialist, Austin ISD

The course was great. Deconstructing the human processes and reactions to change was very helpful, as was examining vocabulary and phraseology for moving change forward.

Richard Bralow, Legal Counsel, TransCanada

One-Day Professional Seminars

Our seminars combine cutting-edge research with real-world application to provide practical and immediately relevant tools for solving key organizational problems, ranging from personal motivation and growth to strategic leadership.

Businesses and nonprofits often bring outside specialists on board to improve their organization’s overall efficiency, creativity, and productivity. Participants in our seminars learn to function as “internal consultants,” equipped with new skills and insights to enhance their existing expertise and institutional knowledge.

By exploring specific human, cultural, and communicatory aspects of organizations alongside professionals from a wide range of industries, participants leave HDO seminars more effective, well-rounded employees.

Two Options to Learn

HDO Professional Seminars may be taken individually or as part of a four-course Certificate Program. This course is a required course for the Change Management Certificate Program. It may also be selected by individuals pursuing a Create Your Own Certificate Program.

Courses Led by Top Faculty

“I found the conceptual models and practical strategies the most useful. I learned a lot in this course and have my work cut out for me. The instructors were phenomenal and worked so well together.”

Jyothi Gupta, PhD, Occupational Therapy Department Chair and Director of Residential Programs, A.T. Still University

Registration & Fees

Standard Registration: $1,000
Discounted Registration: $750

Discounted registration is available for UT alumni and staff, as well as individuals who work in the nonprofit, education, government, or military sectors.

Our registration system accepts payment by credit/debit card, check, and purchase order. We also accept Interdepartmental Transfer (IDT) payments for UT Austin faculty and staff.

Transformative Experiences

“The instructors were 100% my favorite element of the seminar. They were approachable, empathetic, knowledgeable, and encouraging. They empowered me as a professional and helped me realize that I can be successful in my new career.”

Jenna Saldana, Organizational Change Management Coordinator, Teacher Retirement System of Texas

UT Austin