A common pain point for offices around the world is change. As soon as you implement a new program or change the way processes are done, it seems there’s always someone who will resist.
Change is a common problem among corporations. A Harvard Business Review study observed the way employees resisted change in a series of studies. In every case, the HBR study reported:
“Resistance developed almost immediately after the change occurred. Marked expressions of aggression against management occurred, such as conflict with the methods engineer,…hostility toward the supervisor, deliberate restriction of production, and lack of cooperation with the supervisor. There were 17% quits in the first 40 days. Grievances were filed about piece rates; but when the rate was checked, it was found to be a little ‘loose.’”
You can’t stop change, but you can equip your employees with the tools to handle change gracefully. This is a challenge for any manager who sees the vision of change but needs to get their employees on board. Here are a few ideas you can use.
Educate Yourself on the Issue
There are many courses designed for executives on a variety of leadership subjects, and dealing with change is a common one. You could enroll in a course designed to boost your education while helping you build self-confidence in your decisions.
Look for a course where you can learn more about strategic change. You should learn about managing both the changes in the company and the individuals involved to make the inevitable a smoother process.
Focus on Inspiring
Ideally, you’ll boost change by inspiring those who resist the most. Try to draw a colorful picture of what the workplace will look like after a change takes place. Talk briefly about the benefits of the change for the company as a whole, but spend most of the time talking about how it will benefit individual employees.
Those upset with change often feel slighted. They feel that a company is spending too much time looking out for its own benefit and not enough for the individual. If you can convince your employees that things will be much better in the future, the transition can be smoother.
You’ll likely hear plenty of griping and complaining throughout the office. You don’t want to let things get too carried away, but that doesn’t mean you must stop it immediately. Complaining is a natural part of accepting change, and it can be therapeutic for employees struggling with what’s coming next.
If you feel that employees are spreading too much negativity throughout the office, address it. Don’t bring the hammer down, as this will likely only reinforce the negative behaviors. Instead, calmly address the complaints and look for a way to find mutual ground. Oftentimes, one-on-one meetings with the problem-causers can restore their faith in the company.
And more importantly, respond calmly to mistakes. They will happen as the company transitions into a new process or future, and it’s all an important part of the company learning and growing. Point out what can be learned from mistakes and move on.
Celebrate Small Victories
It’s unlikely that you’ll see big improvements right away. In the majority of cases, change is made by degrees. When you see a victory, no matter how small, take the opportunity to celebrate it. You don’t necessarily have to make a big deal out of it, but you should acknowledge the parties involved and thank them for their efforts.
When larger victories occur, such as meeting a company-wide goal, then you can really celebrate. You might have a party or another incentive for their hard work. Employees like to be recognized when they’re doing things that are difficult for them, and your attention to their efforts will be appreciated.
A simple way to initiate change is to invite engagement from your employees. Ask for their opinions on how the change should be initiated. Don’t let them change factors that are set in stone, but keep them involved in the way processes are implemented.
You might be surprised at how many of your employees are willing to accept change and carry it through if you ask for their help. They likely have great ideas because of their areas of expertise, and a collective engagement from your employee community will go a long way!
Overall, don’t expect miracles. Some employees will never fully embrace change, and you can deal with that as time goes on. Your ultimate goal should be to encourage as many people as possible to see the vision and benefits in place.