How To Address Change Resistance In Your Organisation

Organisations are constantly undergoing or planning a change in today’s fast-paced business environment, but it is often the case that employees quickly become the biggest opponent to the organisational change. Catherine Finn, Head of Change Management, shares some best practice tips to address change resistance.

The author of this page: Catherine Finn
Catherine Finn, Head of Change Management Apr 15, 2021

Successful business leaders understand that human capital can be one of the greatest assets to a company however, it may also be the hardest asset to manage. Although many changes tend to happen at the C-Suite level, it is critical to get employees to buy into the change. Having employees opposed to the change from the outset can set back the project and needs to be managed correctly.

Some common reasons for resistance in employees include the fear of the unknown and the fear of leaving their comfort zone. Another big factor is the fear of job loss, with things constantly changing within an organisation this leaves an opportunity for new jobs to be created or for job roles to change. Lack of trust can also play a part, when employees don’t trust in their management to fully carry out the change, they may resist it. If employees perceive no benefit or reward at the end of the change, they can not see the point in undergoing such a change in their working lives. Below we explore some best practices to help best overcome and prevent employee resistance.

Expect Change Resistance

It is important to always anticipate some level of change resistance even if the project outcome is going to bring a significant improvement to the company’s working processes and to the daily lives of employees. The anticipation of undergoing a change project can feel overwhelming and fear of the unknown future can create stress. Although employees may recognise that their current situation could be improved, asking them to change the status quo may cause resistance. Change Management teams should expect resistance and be prepared to address it from the beginning.

Identify Possible Causes of Resistance

Change resistance can manifest in numerous different types of behaviour in employees such as complaining and disagreeing, not attending change meetings or engaging with change leaders and simply not adopting the change. However, it is more important to try and identify the root cause of these behaviours and the resistance. With knowledge of common causes for resistance such as lack of awareness or impact on job role, change leaders should work to address each one from the start by making a compelling case for the change while referencing the worries employees may have.

Implement the Change in Stages

Introducing an organisational change all at once can cause employees to feel more overwhelmed. Change management is a process and should be introduced in planned phases which allows team members to allocate time to complete each step of the change. There should also be some space in between the steps to give employees some breathing space to assess and reflect on the previous step and then prepare for the next step. This staged approach will create realistic expectations for employees and less resistance at each step.

Select the right Change Leaders

Organisational change cannot be implemented by a management team alone. Successful change requires involvement from all parts of an organisation. It is also important to assess who can best manage resistance throughout the project which are usually those at a more senior level. Change leaders must also lead by example. If an employee is uneasy about an impending change project and their manager is appearing unenthusiastic and uninterested, an employee is unlikely to get onboard. The change leaders of the organisation must work to lead by example as modelling resistance will only encourage more resistance. Leaders should speak in a positive way about the change and lead with the attitude they would like in employees towards the change.

 If you want to learn more about how Storm’s Change Management team can help your organisation get maximum return on projects, contact us here.

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