Overcoming Resistance to Change24/08/2020
Resistance to change can manifest itself in several different ways. It could come in the form of missed deadlines, failed commitments, being absent from meetings, and a general sense of apathy are all indicating signs that employees are not invested in the organization.
Resistance to change could also present itself in more obvious ways. When change is occurring, pay attention to your employee’s general mood, whether there is more gossip than usual, or if they are responding to requests in a sarcastic or snide manner.
In some cases, there may be an individual elected by the employees to speak out against the change. This may be in the form of an official union or just a collection of individuals who share the same feelings towards the change and see that there is power in numbers.
The surprising benefits of resisting change
Contrary to common belief, resistance to change is not inherently bad. In fact, it can actually be a good thing.
First, it forces management to choose their battles carefully. Employee pushback begs the question, “Is this change going to drive significant growth?” In other words, is this worth it? This helps ensure resources aren’t thrown into initiatives that don’t have a clear payoff.
Second, it encourages planning and communication. Management must identify where resistance will likely occur and come in with a game plan to prevent it.
So now that we are a little less frightened of change, and resistance of it, let’s explore how to best manage employees during organizational change.
Effective change management is all about understanding what underlies resistance to change. From there, you can address your employees’ biggest concerns.
Top strategies to overcome unproductive resistance to change
Listen First, Talk Second
The first strategy to overcome resistance to change is to communicate. Communication is key you already knew that. However, try letting your employees initiate the conversation. People want to be heard, and giving them a chance to voice their opinions will help alleviate the frustration they feel over the situation.
What’s more, your employee’s thoughts, concerns and suggestions will prove wildly valuable to steer your change project. At the very least, understanding them will help you pinpoint the root of employee resistance to change.
Communicate the Reasons for Change
The next strategy to overcome resistance to change is to communicate the why, what and how. Develop a communication plan that is more than just telling your employees what you want them to do. Effective communication segments and targets each audience, focusing on what they care about and need to know. Underline why this change will benefit them.
How you communicate the change has a huge impact on how much resistance to change will occur. If you wholeheartedly communicate the reasons for change, your conviction will be contagious. Any hesitancy will undermine the operation.
Make it About Employees
Change is only possible if your human resources are on board, so make sure changes are approached in terms of the employee. If you are implementing a new software system plan your project through the lens of user adoption rather than focusing on the technology. It’s not about what the technology can do, it is about what the user can do with the help of this new technology.
A great strategy to overcome resistance to change is: Fight resistance with culture. Train team members who are natural leaders first. They will serve as role models and influencers for the rest of your employees. This has a ripple effect.
Show Them the Data
While resistance to change is usually emotional rather than logical, it can be helpful to use some hard facts as a supplementary strategy. Let your employees see the data for themselves. This is a great way to simultaneously show transparency and demonstrate the need for improvement.
Implement in stages
Whether digital or other, any kind of transformation can’t just happen overnight. There had to be proper preparation leading up to the change, with plenty of advance warning and participation from employees at all levels. Implementing the plan in stages will employees are able to tackle the change one step at a time, learning the new and relevant skills as they go.
This is a much easier way to digest the change and will feel less drastic for those learning new skills and information, meaning they are less likely to resist the changes at hand.
Practice change management exercises
Resistance to change is usually driven by emotions such as fear and feeling threatened. To help combat this there are a number of simple exercises employees can do to simulate the feeling of change. These exercises, which include folding your arms one way and then switching them around or bouncing balls to show companies “bounce back” are also just a bit of fun and are non-threatening unlike genuine change can be. The point of these exercises is to show that though change may be uncomfortable at first, you get used to the new reality pretty quickly.