Today, the resistance to change in the company is a very important, and the same time delicate, subject.
In fact, in business, it is assumed that – big or small – organizations must change to remain competitive and survive in an ever-changing market.
However, facing this (big) change leads to face resistance barriers.
There are many different types of organizational changes.
Organizations can change:
- their strategy,
- their use of technology,
- their structure,
- their culture,
- any combination of these aspects.
That’s why having a perspective view becomes fundamental.
Only by looking forward and defining the new organization and the new way of working of the people involved it is possible to identify the key aspects of the change process.
In short, it will be appropriate to plan “how the hypothetical change must take place” and to define the necessary actions that can counter the potential obstacles that may arise.
It is necessary to understand to what extent the people, in this case the employees, are ready to accept the changes and if the process threatens them in some way.
For a manager who must effectively manage the process of change implementation, it is important to know the reasons why people might resist change. The comprehension of motivations is essential to find and apply ways that encourage cooperation.
Resistance can delay or slow down the process of change, hinder its implementation and increase its cost. A manager can not afford it.
Why do people resist change?
In practice, there are 8 reasons why people resist change at work place.
A good manager must recognize these signs easily and understand the emotions that employees feel in this phase. Let’s try to examine one by one the causes of resistance to change.
1.Loss of work
In a company, any technological progress, process or product change will include more optimized work. This means a reduction in costs, an improvement in efficiency and a focus on faster completion times.
All this means that there will be changes that can affect certain roles and jobs. The team will tend to resist to protect their role.
2.Fear of the unknown
Employee responses to corporate change may vary. It can be fear or total support.
During times of change, some employees may feel the need to stick to the past because it is safer, more known and more predictable.
If what they did in the past worked well for them, they could resist change because they fear this comfortable situation will change in the future.
How can you blame them?
What is known is definitely an anchor, a safe haven, whatever the area.
This is why listening and dialogue become fundamental in this situation. Periodic meetings, comparisons and communication on change can be therefore very useful.
3.Loss of control
Asking to change the way the work is made can make employees feel helpless and confused.
People are more likely to understand and apply changes when they feel they have some control over them.
The key is therefore to keep the communication doors open and to encourage input, support and help from employees.
4.Lack of competence
This is a fear that employees will hardly admit openly.
Some people will feel that they will not be able to make the transition. This is because of their (few or insufficient) skills.
Therefore, the only way for them to survive or not to show their “ignorance” is to counter change.
Some employees express reluctance in learning something new in general. In this way, however, besides hindering change, they also hinder their personal growth.
It is important to consider that change is, itself, an event!
For this reason, change must be introduced when there are no other important initiatives in progress.
In this case, it is essential to prepare a strategy for change management since the beginning. The general situation of the organization must be assessed and the analysis should be complete.
In some cases it may be useful to hire a business change management consultant. This serves to design an effective and objective change management strategy.
6.Lack of rewards
Employees can resist changes when they see no reward. It is the simple question “Who makes me do it?”.
Without reward, in fact, there is no motivation to sustain change in the long run.
Therefore, to support change management, it is important that the organization’s reward systems are modified accordingly. The change must be seen as a rewarding system, an improvement for the company itself.
Each company has its own internal policy. Thus, some employees resist change a priori, like a “political strategy“. It is simply a way like another to go against the management.
Employees can also join forces against change. They can do it, for example, to show that the person leading the change is not good for the task.
In the same manner, employees can resist change in order to protect their work colleagues. They do this when, for example, there is a risk of layoffs.
Sometimes even managers themselves could resist change in order to protect their working teams.
8.Lack of trust and support
A corporate change can not succeed if it takes place in a climate of distrust. Trust implies faith in the intentions and behavior of others.
In this case, any change in the workplace can be a cause of fear for the employees. The fear that their roles within the company may change.
In companies where a high degree of trust exists and employees are treated with respect and dignity, there is less resistance to change.
Recognize resistance to change
How do you know if there is resistance to change in the company?
Sometimes people say or demonstrate quite directly that they are not happy or that they will not follow the plans.
Often, however, resistance is less obvious. It tends to act in a hidden way.
Those who remain silent can resist just as firmly as those who openly communicate their dissent.
Silence does not always mean consent. It is more difficult to manage a silent dissent than an open resistance.
Others may question the methodology. They could do it by undermining the process by which the changes were decided. In short, they will tend to weaken the initiative of change.
Then, there are those who are too busy to think about implementing changes.
Running everywhere the whole day, sending messages and continuously answering calls, they simply do not have time to make changes to their operating modes.
So, how do you handle the obvious and less obvious resistance to change?
Strategies to overcome resistance
If new initiatives seem to fade before moving on and the best plans go nowhere, these can be signs that employees are resisting to change.
Even if not all resistances are negative, the inability to adapt to change can have disastrous consequences.
Several studies have shown that around 70% of corporate changes fail due to the resistance of the workforce.
So what do you do to face resistance to change? Here are some suggestions.
Link the change to other issues that affect people. To improve the perception of change, one can think of connecting it to other issues that people care about (eg work safety). By showing how change is linked to these factors, it is possible to make resistance less likely.
Show attention and understanding of concerns. Communicate with employees about new initiatives and their progress. Ask them which are their worries that they see behind the change. Listening to others’ opinions is the first step to influence them.
Identify team members who support change. These people are the supporters of the new way of working. They can be the link between change and the rest of the team. Ensure that they participate in the forums and to the change initiatives so that their voices can be heard.
Communicate openly. It is essential to give precise information on what will happen and when, which aspects will change and what will remain unchanged. People are more likely to get stressed when they do not know the details of the situation.
Offer resources and tools. In a change, one of the biggest obstacles can be employees who are unprepared to manage changes. It will be necessary to provide training courses, equipment and everything that will not only help them to adapt, but also to excel in the changed environment. In this way, not only they can stop resisting, but they can even feel encouraged and confident about the new situation.
timing is crucial when it comes to change. If you try to make important changes all at once or too quickly, employees may be more likely to resist. It is good practice to introduce change in measured doses in order to give employees the chance to acclimatize. This not only guarantees less interruptions to the activity, but also makes employees more inclined and therefore more productive.Timing is everything. Good
It is a cliché, but it is true that change is difficult, in every sector, both in the working as well as in the private sphere.
By following a few simple strategies and a well designed plan of change, it is possible, however, to reassure the employees that the company’s commitment is to ensure, as never before, their well-being and success.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation of corporate change? Which side did you stand for? Tell us about your experience.