How to Reduce Resistance to Change

Hi, I’m Nicola from The People Mentor, and in today’s podcast, I want to talk about how to reduce resistance to change.

People generally don’t like to change the status quo, and workplaces are no exception. Change causes discomfort and anxiety, because people can’t always see what things might look like after the change-this is what makes them cling onto what is known rather than unknown. We can all identify with that. It is what is unknown that is the source of fear, not the change itself.

When change is announced and it’s poorly introduced, unpopular, or employees weren’t involved, they may resist it, either directly or indirectly, and this can be very disruptive to the change process as well as the overall health of the workplace and the business.

So what might resistance to change look like?

Employees might miss meetings, be unwilling to contribute to discussions about the change, become less productive, stay off work, make snide comments about or openly criticize the change, or even worse, take their grievances public. Even if this starts with one person, it can soon infect an entire team or even the whole workforce.

Whether it’s overt or covert resistance to change, it can be very damaging.

Resistance to change must be skilfully managed. It requires a lot of leaders including:

Listening to employees, understanding how they feel about change, and offering support to help them navigate it.

When employees feel that they’ve been involved and considered, they are less likely to resist change.  Where there are feelings of trust, positive relationships, and plenty of open communication, people are far more likely to want to cooperate with the change process rather than fight against it.

Telling employees why change is needed and why it’s for the better is also key. This will help people understand the context and offer their feedback which will make for a smoother and more successful change process.

You may not be able to eliminate resistance to change completely, but it can be minimised.

What you need to remember is that how you view resistance to change will determine how well you manage it.

Resistance to change is a completely normal reaction and it’s not the preserve of the troublemakers. Don’t be surprised if your brightest and best people demonstrate some resistance.

Don’t think that people will fight you all of the way, either. Be positive and embrace the idea that while change can be hard to accept and process initially, your employees will get onboard with it over time.

You can reduce resistance to change with your actions and your approach.

Start with communicating with people about change. How well you do this will determine how well you minimise resistance to it.

You need to tell people why the change is needed, how it will be implemented, and the importance of having everyone on board. Get people to think about how things might even be better after the change has been implemented.

What are the benefits going to be for employees? Tell them what’s in it for them. Will they have more scope for development, more autonomy, a different and more interesting job role?

If people are being asked to put time, energy, and effort into bringing about change, they want to know that what they are going to get at the end of the process is worth it.

Show them the bigger picture, unite them behind the vision, and explain why sometimes the status quo stifles business growth and their growth.

Listening to employees is a very important part of communication, especially in times of change. People will react emotionally to varying degrees. What might seem like an inconsequential change to one person can seem like total upheaval to another, so hear people out and be careful not to minimise their feelings.

Another key to minimising resistance to change is getting employees involved. One way is by allowing them to have input and listening to their concerns, ideas, and suggestions, and another is to actually give them important roles to play in the implementation of change. Delegate tasks and empower people to help make the change work, keeping the bigger picture in mind, all of the time.

Finally, remember that not all change goes to plan or is even fundamentally what is needed. Continuous improvement and tweaking of the finer details should always be expected when an organisation is going through change.

The most important thing you can do as a leader is to stay focused on why change is needed, how your employees feel about it, communicating well, and doing everything in your power to maintain trust.

It’s in this kind of environment that change is more readily accepted.

It’s not always easy to balance what must be done versus the emotions and experiences of your team, but as long as you keep this in mind when introducing change, you’ll drastically improve your chances of success.

Has 2020 made you see a definite need for change? Do you fear that any more change will be met with resistance?

 I can help.

As the People Mentor for winning teams, I can help you do change well and identify what’s needed for you, your team, and the business to truly flourish.

My bespoke packages of training, workshops, and support will help you lead change and build engaged and energised teams that will take your business forward through the change and beyond.

I know what you are thinking, you’re feeling nervous at the thought of investing in anything right now and that’s completely understandable, but think of my help, guidance, and support as being a way to reduce your expenses and save money in the slightly longer term.

Sound good?

Get in touch for a chat about exactly what’s possible. 

I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and I’ll see you next time.

This is The People Mentor signing off.

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