Accepting change never gets easy, and it is more arduous to make others do so. However, that’s what business executives must do repeatedly, as change is the only constant in life and business.
That said, an organizational change can come in many forms, including a new addition to the team, an exclusion from it, new roles and responsibilities, or changes in organization or company-wide policies.
No matter the kind, it is always a challenge, particularly for employees, to accept the change, and it is essential to plan, anticipate, and counter it before it brews trouble and wreaks havoc within.
Before we discuss overcoming resistance to change, it is a must to understand what it means. Put plainly, resistance to change is unwillingness to accept the new ways and give up the old, trusted ones. It is about trading comfort for discomfort and re-inventing your methods to adapt to new organizational needs.
Now why do employees resist change? Besides the clear attachment to comfort, the fear of the unknown is also a reason behind friction. People crave patterns and predictability and oppose uncertainties, even the anticipated and positive kind, as it triggers anxiety.
So, resistance to change is natural, and treating it as such is vital to manage it right and make the team accept it wholeheartedly.
Employee resists change not because they want to but because it is the default way, and overcoming resistance to change requires understanding the reasons behind it. Below are three common reasons why employees resist change:
Many employees don’t fear change, per se, but don’t trust the leadership or the organization enforcing it. The lack of trust is the common reason behind employee resistance to change and can be easily countered by building trust and helping employees see both sides of the coin. Being transparent about the change and communicating with the team also helps build trust and see the change come to fruition.
Believe it or not, employees fear failure and uncertainty more than change. Often, these are the hidden forces behind friction and force employees to resist the change. A way to counter this fear of failure and uncertainty is to accept its existence and walk the employees through it. Accept the anxiety and fears associated with change and see the picture from the employees’ perspective so you can tackle their concerns better.
Not all employee hates change, however, almost everyone despises constant or frequent changes. A better way is to do it slowly and redefine policies or structure patiently. Spacing changes rightly helps build trust and cause minimum stress to the employees, which in turn, helps with overcoming resistance to change.
Knowing why employees resist change, it is time to discuss tips for overcoming their resistance to change.
Keeping the employees in the know and updated about the new changes help, while enforcing changes out of the blue brews displeasure and friction. The clearly and more often you communicate with the employees, the better it is, as it makes them feel valued. Further, strive to build a bridge between employees and management, and don’t manage the team from the shadows, as it brews speculations, distrust, and resistance.
Enforcing the change without education often backfires, and a better way forward is to educate the employees about the need and value of it. The more aware the employees, the better the acceptance, as when employees know the significance and implications of the change, they feel naturally motivated to accept and follow suit.
Timing is everything, and being methodical and spacing changes helps overcome employees’ resistance to change. That said, it is not always possible to enforce one change at a time, but it is better to keep changes distant, so the employees don’t get annoyed by constantly evolving how they work.
Moreover, change isn’t easy to accept, and it is essential to help and support employees ride it. Enforcing the change and expecting complete implementation without fail is wishful thinking, and a better way is to brace for resistance and provide ongoing support to help employees accept change.
Address their concerns, provide solutions, and give leverage where it is due to help employees don’t follow but embrace change wholeheartedly and overcome resistance to change.
Change causes friction, but overcoming resistance to change is possible. The more involved you are in the process, the easier it is to win employees’ trust and help them accept change. Further, space changes smartly and provide ongoing support, as it helps, while dictating change without education brews resistance and all things negative.
Read more: How to Develop Leaders Across the Organization
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