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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
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
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
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