Before you take a look at how you can effectively deal with change management and resistance to change, you may want to check out our blogs on business strategy, digital transformation and scenario planning.
Change Management Explained
In modern day life many people resist change because they fear the unknown. The same principle applies with business. With the changing business environment we find ourselves in, business leaders are being encouraged to become as flexible as possible in order to change their business and continue to compete and meet the demands of customers.
Forms of resistance can come from any direction within business. It is also normally dependable on what change management initiative you aim to carry out however resistance is most likely from primary stakeholders such as customers, employees, funders, management or leadership. Each of these individuals or groups have the potential to push against or oppose your future plans and decision making.
Types of Change
In most cases change management processes are going to be at a company-wide level. Some of the different styles of change have been listed below;
- Structural Change: Change in teams, departments, roles or responsibilities.
- Strategic Change: Changes to certain process, structures or policies
- People-centric Change: Hiring of new people or change in management roles
- Technological Change: Implementation of new software
Reasons for Resistance to Change
As we can see from above, when we change an organisation there are going to be individuals which are heavily affected. For the most part these individuals are likely to be employees. Therefore with employees a key source to resistance, some of their reasons for resisting change have been listed below:
- Potential job loss: Whether it be a restructuring or the implementation of new technology, employees will have a sense of fear that they may lose their job. It is therefore important to have the measures in place to manage this and communicate the outcome of the change.
- Lack of trust: A lack of trust with leadership or those individuals directing the change process can lead to primary stakeholders not buying into the overall plans.
- Become comfortable over time: Depending on how long certain individuals have spent within the role they may resist change. Also losing a sense of control can also influence how high the level of resistance is also.
- Poor timing: Timing can be an effective motivator of resistance where sharing information at the correct time is key to overall buy in.
The key thing to remember here is that change is expected and it is going to affect us in some way within management. However it does not mean we have to stop our plans or do something different, it just means we must look past it and deal with it in the most appropriate way possible.
Harvard Business Review: How to Deal with Resistance to Change
Key ways to manage resistance in business
1. Analysing the form of resistance
Understanding the nature of the resistance in terms of whether it’s in relation to the technology, structuring or people aspect will help you focus on the area which is causing most resistance and plan around mitigating this response and any future forms of resistance.
Clear, transparent communication at all levels and stages of a project is going to be key to your success, where the more informed your customers or employees are, the more likely they are to get on board with you. This may take time and effort but putting measures in place which ensures all groups are managed correctly and any of their queries, questions or frustrations are dealt with appropriately can be the difference in you being successful or not.
Encouraging collaboration is another effective way in managing change and dealing with any forms of resistance. Normally this would be most effective with management level, where a certain level of power and influence is associated with these individuals. It will therefore be important that their buy-in is ensured and allowing them to collaborate with strategic decisions and the future change process is an effective way of getting buy-in from these individuals.
Having the involvement of all stakeholders is a key approach to strategy during a change management process. Involvement should be encouraged at all stages of the change management process or project, whether it be during the planning stage or the strategy implementation stage. Some employees are going to know your business better than others, so having a broad range of different individuals involved in the overall process is key. In addition, a sense of control with regards to decision making can help ensure resistance is low from employees.
5. Rewards and Incentives
A rewards system can encourage people to buy into a change management process. This capacity of this can be dependable on the size of a business, however promotion opportunities and bonuses are ways of managing resistance to change, or for smaller sized companies, recognition can be a strong motivator for some people as well.
6. Training and Support
Training and support is going to be the key way to ensure the individuals or groups which are going to be affected by your change initiative understand how to get on board with the change. For example, if you are conducting a digital transformation and implementing a new software system, without the correct training and support eventually cracks will start to show leading to future problems developing and a likelihood of failure. Therefore, providing these people with the tools they need to test the system and encouraging experimental learning will be key to overall change management success.
7. Appoint change management champions / key leaders
A change management champion or a key leader could be an individual who is most likely to lead by example. Normally these individuals can represent the company and is approachable for anyone who may be experiencing any issues or problems. This will help the overall change management process where having these individuals can offer you confidence that everyone is being managed effectively and resistance is unlikely to build.
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