Five effective actions to manage change and minimise resistance
Change is essential. If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. However, while change is necessary for the continued success of an organisation, it also creates potential for employee resistance.
The following are five suggestions for managers and supervisors that will not only minimise the level of staff resistance but also deliver positive and successful outcomes for the organisation.
1. Communicate the change and its purpose from the start
It is imperative that you proactively notify your staff that change is approaching as soon as possible. By doing so, you will provide change-resistant staff more time to acclimatise to the idea that change is on the horizon. All employees must know why change is necessary for the business and how this particular change will benefit the entire organisation.
Change should have a positive impact, but sometimes it will not be immediately obvious to everyone. Ensure that each staff member is aware of the advantages and benefits for them individually and for their team or department.
2. Ask for employee participation
So that your staff remain engaged during the change process, provide opportunities for them to contribute to planning and implementing the change. However, make sure that when you ask for suggestions you are willing to listen and prepared to implement any useful input you receive. It’s important to facilitate genuine employee participation, not a tokenistic display of change management principles.
Select influential and trusted team members and ask them to help guide others through the transition. The aim here is to nominate someone that staff can feel comfortable speaking to about issues or concerns, who can speak on their behalf if required.
3. Create a clear communication plan for the entire change process
Effective communication is the key to minimising potential resistance to change. Resistance to change is often just fear of the unknown, and whether an employee interprets change as a positive or negative is heavily dependent on how the message is delivered.
The most important conversations, and especially those which could potentially lead to difficult discussions for managers, should take place one-on-one. This way, people can speak openly about any possible objections and you can help to address their concerns. Be aware, however, that some changes simply must be communicated in writing. A good communication plan uses a variety of carefully considered delivery methods and has a clear structure so that everyone receives regular updates.
4. Implement the changes in gradual phases
Trial changes with smaller groups, allowing these test-users to identify issues and provide feedback so you can adjust the change to ensure it will deliver the most benefit to all staff. While this is happening, continue to communicate with all staff and identify any concerns. If you build excitement within the smaller group and ensure that this is a positive experience for them, you will gradually build excitement in the broader staff group that will ultimately have to change. Remember to provide adequate training and allocate time for employees to hone any new skills they will require to implement the change.
5. Evaluate and adapt
Like any business initiative, you need to measure and evaluate the impacts and outcomes of change along the way. Once you’ve communicated what you want to achieve and how the benefits should look for your team, review these goals frequently. Don’t lose sight of the core purpose of the change, but continue to communicate openly and be flexible and transparent if things don’t go to plan.
At various times in the life cycle of an organisation, change will need to occur. And every time change is required, there are further opportunities for greatness as well as the potential for resistance. As a frontline manager or supervisor, you have a key role to play in minimising this resistance. By performing these actions and communicating effectively during the change process, it will not only help you to manage the transition but also help your organisation to grow and prosper.