Wednesday, May 4, 2016

4 Tips for Reducing Resistance to Change

The issues companies target for improvement by change projects...namely, teamwork, worker output and other contributors to workplace productivity are the very things that employee resistance negatively affects. In a mild state, resistance might appear as employee inertia. But employees may demonstrate change resistance in more overt ways, such as rebellion and sabotage. Consequently, it's important to design and implement change management strategies to prevent or reduce employee resistance when a change occurs. For instance, you might improve the likelihood a change project will succeed by including employees in planning and other change project processes.

1. Include employees and other stakeholders in change management project.

For a change project to succeed, stakeholders -- employees and others with a vested interest in a project's outcome -- must support project processes in emotional and practical ways.

The involvement of the right stakeholders at the right time can accelerate a team's progress, increase the value of project outcomes and decrease project risk. For instance, there's a greater likelihood a project will deliver its promised value, such as a 20 percent increase in productivity, due to a decrease in the risk that results from employee buy-in. The opposite is also true: disregarding key stakeholders or limiting their contributions can wreak havoc with a project schedule and budget, each of which may increase the risk of project failure.

One way to gain stakeholder support is to involve them throughout a change project's life cycle. To do so, a leader should identify and begin to communicate with stakeholders early in the project planning process. Only then will the project team understand stakeholder attitudes, which is needed for a project's outcome to reflect their perspectives.

2. Clearly and repeatedly communicate the need for change.

Organizational change is a disruptive event made more so if company leaders fail to alert employees to the forthcoming change and its effects says Rosabeth Kanter in "Ten Reasons People Resist Change." What's needed is for leaders to invite employee discussion of the change project and its ramifications during the early stages of the project. Kanter says that unless employees are active supporters of the change project, they may oppose it. For this reason, timely discussions between leaders and employees about the need for change, the nature of the change and its probable results are essential.

3. Limit the likelihood employees will perceive the change as a threat.

If employees doubt a change project will accomplish a desirable outcome, it's likely they will resist the change. Also, employees may withdraw project support if they conclude a project will make a bad situation worse. The origin of both of these responses is an employee's need to be in control of his work.

To limit the likelihood employees will perceive a change as a threat, invite them to participate in all phases of the change management project -- from planning for the change to its implementation. And if possible, allow employees to choose from a few alternatives that the team might implement, rather than force them to accept that which management chooses. 

4. Limit the disruption of employee work processes.

A change project can raise employee expectations, improve resource access and lead to employee reassignments and advancement. But these projects may have undesirable outcomes as well. For example, an employee might lose a degree of authority, need to work extended hours or lose his job.

Because an employee's work is one basis of his self-esteem, people may perceive workplace change as a threat according to "Managing through Change," a publication of the University of California. As a consequence, workplace change can result in stress or medical and behavioral issues that can negatively affect employee performance. So it's important to give employees ample opportunity to adjust to a change and provide training in new processes or technology. To best meet these requirements, it's wise to limit the number of workplace changes that occur simultaneously and implement them using a phased approach.

Although a company's management approves change projects to improve work processes, a project's effects can be anything but positive. If a company implements a change project too quickly or if the project scope is too large, stakeholder support may be difficult to come by. So it's best to involve them in the change management project processes early and often.

Robert Blake
Bit by Bit Computer Consultants
721 N Fielder Rd. #B
Arlington, Texas 76012
Direct 817.505.1257

877.860.5831 x190