It’s time for a pop quiz!
QUESTION: What is the best way to overcome employee resistance to change?
- Force them to comply with threats and negative consequences.
- Bribe them.
- Gain their trust and willing participation.
Hopefully, everybody selected “C.”
In all seriousness, though. Change is a challenge. Yet it’s a constant in every organization, along with employee resistance to it. So what’s a manager to do?
The best way to keep resistance at bay is by gaining employee trust and willing participation. Your staff must believe in you and the proposed change in direction, buying into the fact that it’s the right thing for them personally, and for the organization. In order to get to that point, here are four proven strategies that will have your employees jumping up and down over change (or at least make you more successful at overcoming resistance to it).
You want to start by assessing your organization’s readiness, and developing a plan to manage the change. Another effective technique is to test the changes among a smaller group within your company. This provides rehearsal time to work out any glitches in the change process, and a bonus is that it increases your support team once the changes are implemented company wide.
Can We Talk?
Communicate early and often with everyone who is affected. People respond to change on an emotional rather than intellectual level, so address personal concerns first. And don’t be all rainbows and sunshine, telling employees only the wonderful things the change will mean for the organization. First of all, they’re not going to buy it. And second, this doesn’t address the real reason behind their resistance.
Fact is, they’re scared about what the change means for them personally. Will they have to learn new skills? Adopt new practices? Most likely. So it’s beneficial to address these concerns in advance. Be honest and straightforward, sharing the reasons behind the change as well.
Involve the People
People support what they help create. Involve resisters in the change process. Encourage them to share their specific concerns and give feedback regarding how the changes are working. Actively listen and be prepared to incorporate their suggestions and ideas for improvement.
Train ‘em Up
Going back to the “they’re scared” part, oftentimes people resist change because they recognize they don’t have the necessary skills to be successful and are afraid to ask for help. Provide learning and training opportunities to build their confidence and competence with new duties and situations. Be patient and celebrate successes every step of the way.
Businesses grow, industries evolve. Change happens. But if it’s dealt with in an effective and responsible manner, you’ll reduce and possibly even avoid employee resistance, allowing your company to enjoy a smooth transition.