Lead Your Staff through Change

By Tayo Leigh

 09 Mar 2015     Comments

When dealing with any kind of organisational change, Business owners may be enthusiastic about streamlining or expanding an organisation - the employees might not be so keen.

Some people are adaptable and thrive on change, a great many others are mistrustful and resist it. This can occur for a variety of reasons. When implementing something new, you need to expect and plan for resistance.

To help, we've compiled a list of the some main reasons people resist change along with suggestions to overcome them.

Top 5 Reasons Employees Resist Change

Fear of Failure

Employees may worry about their competence. When change results in the significant overhaul of an employee’s role, they may fear they lack the competence to match new expectations. Over time employees get comfortable within their roles. Change can threaten this sense of security. You will need to evaluate whether the issue is lack of confidence or if there is a real skills gap that needs to be addressed.

To smooth the transition, make sure any changes to roles and responsibilities are clearly explained. Determine whether your employees have the necessary skills and provide training or coaching where needed. Be sympathetic. Reduce the fear of making mistakes by emphasising that during the transition some mistakes may be considered part of the learning process.

Lack of Communication

Poor communication can be the death knell of a change strategy. It is essential employees understand exactly what changes are being made, how it will affect their job and department, and why such change is necessary.

Clearly communicate a compelling business case and strategy. This should involve having a different approach in communicating with people at different levels and areas of the business. Its not a case of one size fits all -interpret the case for all stakeholders so that it has relevance. Ultimately they don't have to agree with the decision, but they do need to understand the reasoning behind the decision.

No Rewards

You may encounter the "What's in it for me?" syndrome. When employees have to make significant changes to how they work without receiving any direct benefit, they might not be willing participate. Adapt the company rewards system to incentivise behaviour that supports the change so employees are motivated to embrace the changes.

Lack of trust

Employees may distrust that the change is going to bring about positive outcomes, either for the organisation or for themselves. They may be especially cynical if they have negative experiences of change in the past.

Be sensitive to the very real concerns of job security and possible change in status within the organisation. If job security will be altered, let people know the extent and the reasons for this. If there is to be a change in who people are reporting to or to team structure, again inform and explain. If job security and role status will be unaffected, it is equally important to emphasise this. Communication and transparency are key to allay fears or to enable people to confront issues that may indeed have negative consequences for them.

Office Politics

Office politics can explain some resistance to change, and it can be very difficult to tackle. Individuals or groups within an organisation who do not support a change may make efforts to undermine it. They may want to see the change fail so that their dissenting opinion is justified. The more influential they are the greater the potential for harm. However, efforts to bring such employees on board can be difficult as they are likely to be unreceptive.

Acknowledge their contrary opinion but still try to involve them in the change process. Actively listen and engage with them. However, also make it clear that you will not tolerate any attempts to sabotage or undermine the new plan. Where persuasion doesn't work, you will have to be tough!

So remember to communicate clearly, be transparent and incentivise your team to increase the likelihood of successfully implementing change.

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