They say change is unavoidable; well, so is resistance to change. With the uncertainty and anxiety brought about by change, even the most loyal, supportive and cooperative employees may put up some resistance. The discomfort caused by the idea of change makes it difficult for employees to adopt new ways, and instead slip back to the “normal” way of doing things.
Resistance to change by employees could take several forms. They include reduced output, employee turnover, chronic quarrels, transfer requests, sullen hostility, strikes or slowdowns, and a lot of reasons why the change won’t work. Even the pettiest kinds of resistance will cause trouble.
So, if resistance to change is to be expected, does that mean that leaders will forever have to “force” it down the throats of resistant employees? The answer is No. CDL Insight suggests there are things the management can do to make change more palatable for employees and reduce resistance.
- Involve your employees. Allow your employees to make a contribution to the changes when the change program is being created. By including your employees in the process, you help them alleviate the fear of the unknown as well as reduce the likelihood of resistance since the change would have originated from them. It’s much easier for people to accept a change they helped create than something totally alien to them.
- Communicate. You need to provide open and honest communication about everything that is taking place when effecting change. Keeping your employees in the loop will prevent rumour mills that could hamper the effort. Communicating early will also help you win the minds, hearts, and loyalty of your employees.
You’ll also need to educate your people about what the change entails to eliminate any misconceptions. Make sure that they understand why the change is necessary and the effects it will have on them and the business.
- Provide the resources needed. One of the biggest problems among employees when change is taking place is the unpreparedness to handle the changes. Make sure your employees are adequately trained and provided with the proper equipment so that they can adapt more easily and excel in the new changed environment. Provide any assistance needed to make them more effective and efficient as the change is happening and after it has happened. This will reduce resistance by showing the organisation’s commitment to change.
- Negotiate with your employees. Sometimes negotiations are necessary to get resisters on board. Listen to the concerns of your employees and where possible negotiate to come up with a solution that will work for both sides. If negotiations are successful, you can almost be certain that the change will be implemented with very minimal resistance.
- Implement the change in stages. For big changes that will drastically affect the way people do things, splitting them into phases will help your employees take it in. Let your employees ease into the change by providing it in bite-size portions. Divide the change into several phases and implement them one by one to minimise the amount of resistance as well as minimise work interruptions.
Having your employee’s support change is crucial to ensuring that the change effort is successful. And in a world where businesses have to change constantly to remain competitive, how your employees react to change will definitely have an effect on the success of your business.