Tips

Are your employees resistant to change?


An old boss once said to me, that he hated explaining change to his staff because of the terror and panic that rippled through the office. He said, the first thing people think when you mention the word ‘change’ is, ‘am I losing my job?’, and it was that uncertainty that he hated.

But as an entrepreneur and a pragmatic leader, you’ll be excited by the change, and it’s important to get your employees on board and as excited as you. First, you must understand why your employees are wary of change, and then you can encourage them.

You must lead the change and create a trusted environment, and here’s how:

-   Make staff comfortable

Over time, your staff will know their job role inside out, and will be comfortable with it, and other aspects of the business. Change makes people uncomfortable, and threatens their safety.

If you’re changing the culture, the company’s aims, or work processes this will mean you’re altering sections of people’s work activities. Some of your employees will thrive on change and new challenges, but others will question their competency.

As a leader, you will need to address this concern differently, depending on the member of staff. Clearly explain the tasks, allow room for adjustments, and they will accept change with less reluctance.

-   Diminish the fear of disaster

The fear of failure is the main reason that people hate change. Individuals don’t hate the ‘change’ itself, but rather the result of the change; being laid off, losing out on a promotion, or missing out on a bonus for example. No one likes to take on new responsibilities, fail and then deal with the consequences.

As a leader, you need to be sympathetic to these fears and create policies that reflect them. Accept that you will see the occasional blunder, and create a safe environment where staff believe that a blunder can be a learning curve, and not something to be reprimanded for.

-   Ensure the stability of status

Changes will often mean a structure of a team is altered. This may leave some staff members worried about their current position and if their status will be threatened or lessened.

As a leader, you will need to be sensitive to the opinions of others and those most affected by the change. Let them know your plans as soon as possible to put their minds at rest.

-   Make the unknown comfortable

People love the familiar. They also love routine. Take away their familiar routine, and they will be anxious, which will create resistance.

Try to implement change slowly to give people time to adjust to your new ideas. If you need to change things quickly, ask people for patience, and then ask for opinions and views a few weeks after the change has happened. By asking for opinions after the change, the conversation will be focused on the concrete, and not the anxiety of the unknown.

By being mindful of the reasons that people are scared of change, and how you alleviate their fears, you will create support for those who back you and your business aims. Remember:  resistance isn’t all bad. Your employees may throw up questions and ideas that you haven’t thought of, and of course, you want to hear about those. But make it clear that your employee’s opinions are valid and wanted.

Related articles:

How to survive an all-day interview

How to be an empathetic leader

9 Silly ways to be more productive

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