5 Tips to Deal With Resistance to Change in the Workplace
Changes in the workplace don’t always happen in ways that we’d like. Employees and colleagues can be resistant to change and in our modern world it’s certainly worth allowing them to voice their concerns.
Management must always balance the interests of their valued employees whilst endeavouring to enact meaningful changes that are necessary to push the goals and vision of the organisation forward. Below are five helpful tips to deal with resistance to change in the workplace:
Take Moral Agency and Responsibility for Change
No matter what precipitated the need to enact change, as the one responsible for implementing the change you must take responsibility rather than attributing it to other sources (e.g. ‘the economy’ or ‘our competitors are doing things this way or that way’).
By taking responsibility and demonstrating moral agency over the change, you are demonstrating to everyone else in the organisation that you have a vested interest in seeing the change brought about in a successful way without too much friction.
Accept the Outcomes
Whether you’ve discussed changes within your organisation in a meeting of senior management, in a focus group with other participants voicing different opinions, or you’ve presented your proposed changes a number of times already yet another change was ultimately chosen, you’ve got to accept the outcomes.
Perhaps you feel like your proposed change was better and demonstrated it through cost-benefit analyses, but it simply can’t change the tide of events no matter how you feel about the other options that were accepted.
If the burden is too big to bear, be mindful that actively going against the new change will attract unwanted attention and may get you terminated. This can be a hard pill to swallow, and the choice ultimately comes down to how well you intend to carry on with the change yourself.
Minimise Resistance through Relationships and Leadership
A manager can be a leader, but a leader doesn’t need to be a manager. Anyone within the organisation can have a role of leadership whereby colleagues put their faith and trust in their genuine decision-making. Take advantage of your own workplace relationships to enact change in a meaningful way by leveraging your position of leadership.
People are far more willing to back an idea (i.e. a change) if someone they can relate to and confide in is also backing it.
The most important question for employees and colleagues is often why. The other W’s matter (who, what, where, when), but ultimately knowing the why behind a change can completely change opinions from wishy-washy or on the fence to full support.
Perhaps you may think that it really doesn’t matter why employees must embrace the change, it only matters that they actively do so. Wrong. Communicate the why and when they see the reasoning behind the change, they will be far more willing to play an active role in seeing it come to fruition.
The ‘open door policy’ of many workplaces is far less welcoming than as advertised, unfortunately. Every colleague may have their own doubts or hesitation towards the change, but are simply unwilling to ask any meaningful questions out of fear of criticism or reprisal. If you claim to have an open door policy, act like you mean it and empathetically listen to the concerns of your employees.
Perhaps their questions can be answered easily, but perhaps they can provide you with some insight that is worthy of noting down. Importantly, don’t hold their hesitations against them personally as this can backfire immensely.
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