Resistance to change is also very subjective. That is, people have different threshold levels to change. Some of us who have had bad experiences with change, or grew up in environments where change was considered threatening, will obviously be more resistant when change occurs than those who have benefited from change in the past, or were taught to embrace change.
Resistance to change is subjective in another way. Changes affect people in different ways. For example, Michelle has always prepared documentation for any package she sends out so that she will be able to track it later on if necessary, or quickly answer any questions from customers, vendors, salespeople, and so forth. Brad has never done this; he thinks it is a waste of his time. When the company institutes a new policy calling for careful documentation of all outgoing packages, Michelle is unfazed. Brad reacts negatively to this new “busywork” and complains to everybody about it.
How to Reduce Resistance
It is unwise to think that you can totally eliminate your team’s resistance to workplace changes. As we already mentioned, people will normally be resistant. You will be more successful if you try to reduce the amount of
resistance. The best strategy is to involve your employees in the change.
Above all else, provide as much information as possible. Because resistance to change is based on a fear of the unknown, you need to minimize the unknowns. The fewer unknowns the less resistance. This of course does
not mean that all information will be well-received. But it is better for your people to have accurate information they do not like than no information or inaccurate information.
As we all know, people will get information any way they can. If you are not providing it they will find other sources—and there is a high likelihood that what they find will be inaccurate. By being your team’s source of accurate information you will be correctly seen as their best guide through the change.
Next explain why the change is occurring and point out any benefits to them. Often there are no benefits for them. The customer may benefit or some other department may flourish as a result. Sometimes, you just have
to be honest and say something like “This will not help our team, but it will help make the entire organization more successful,” or, “Not every change benefits our team, but others have and will.”
Then, ask your employees how the change can be implemented in their group or your department. The more you involve others with the change the more readily they will accept it. Sometimes your most resistant
employees, once involved, become your biggest champions for the change. Always try to identify the most resistant individuals from the beginning and get them on your side. Change occurs much more easily when you have their support.
Excerpted with permission from The First-Time Manager by Jim McCormick, copyright Loren B. Belker, Jim McCormick, and Gary S. Topchik.