Change is a regular thing in business; and at one point or the other, your company will go through certain changes. This can be quite challenging for your organization, especially if it involves several people (your employees). It does not matter if it is a small or big change, one certain thing is, if you do not know how to overcome resistance to change in an organization, you will always be at loggerheads with your workforce whenever a change is implemented in your company.
Change in any aspect of life can be quite scary.
So, it is normal for people to resist it, especially in an organization.
Your duty as a business owner or leader is to expect this reaction to change and find out how to overcome it.
It is very easy to become so overwhelmed with the plan for the change that you fail to consider those that will be mostly affected by it.
But if you consider everyone in the organization and carry them along as you implement the change, it will be a whole easier to adapt to it.
Luckily, this article is here to guide you on how to do this.
Here, you will learn everything you need to know to successfully overcome resistance to change in your organization.
So, make sure you read this article to the end.
Stages Of Change – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
People tend to go through several stages whenever a change is implemented.
Knowing and understanding these stages is key to overcoming resistance to change in an organization.
Denial or Shock
When change is implemented, the status quo is typically disrupted.
As a result, people may be in shock and be surprised that the change is happening in the first place.
Others may be in denial and refuse to believe that the change will be implemented.
Fear or Anger
Once people get over their shock and/or denial about the change, they enter the next stage.
They know they do not want the change so, they entire get scared or angry (or even both) about it.
These emotions come up because change comes with so many uncertainties.
This stage is quite risky because people in the organization may work actively against the implementation of the change.
This is why productivity may significantly drop in this stage if you are not careful.
Now, people in the organization have come to understand that there is nothing they can do about the change.
So, they have no choice but to accept it and learn to adapt to and even embrace it.
Now, productivity should peak and it should generally be more than what it was pre-change.
Sadly, not every organization can get to this stage and may remain stuck in stage 3.
This is often because the people within the organization keep resisting the change and the management does not find a means to overcome this resistance.
Why Do People Resist Change in an Organization – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
So, you know the stages people often go through whenever a change is being initiated or introduced in any organization.
The big question now is why do people go through these stages?
What makes people feel the way they do about change and then resist it?
This is what we’ll be answering in this part of the article.
For you to successfully overcome resistance to change in your organization, you first need to know why it is even happening in the first place.
This way, you will be able to come up with strategies that will help you combat these issues or even avoid them.
Remember that fear is one of the stages people go through when change is introduced in the workplace.
They are often scared because they do not know how this new change will affect their roles in the organization.
Typically, when an organization makes a change, it does so in a bid to increase efficiency, boost productivity, minimize cost, and generally just make sure things are better.
So, it is only normal for an employee to fear losing their job because of the change; especially if the change is technological.
They may start to feel threatened by it.
Any business owner or leader knows just how important communication is in business.
And this cuts across every aspect of business, including when implementing a change.
The simple truth is, your employees will likely react to the news of change based on how you tell them the news.
This means that if you do not properly communicate the news of the change well, people will likely resist it.
When telling your workforce about a change, you need to let them know important details about the change like:
- What: properly explain what the change entails
- Why is the change even necessary?
- How do you plan on implementing said change?
- Who: talk about who will be affected and/or involved with the change
- When will the change be implemented?
If you fail to properly communicate all of the above, people within the organization will still believe that there was nothing wrong with the old way.
So, why should there be a change?
And this will lead them to resist the change at every turn.
This is perhaps the biggest reason why people tend to resist change in every aspect of life.
Change comes with several uncertainties and people generally do not like that.
When someone is already used to a particular way of doing things, any slight change may make them feel unsure.
They may feel like they no longer have control.
And this may make them feel like the only way they can stay in control would be to resist the change.
Peer Pressure or Empathy – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Humans are social creatures and tend to form bonds and relationships.
Managers and leaders within an organization may resist change if they feel the change will be detrimental to their friends or work group within the organization.
Likewise, other members of the workforce may resist change in a bid to protect their colleagues and friends.
In both cases, these people may do this even when the change has no direct effect on them.
Past Experiences – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Some people have had bad experiences with change and this has made them even more skeptical about it.
If your organization had gone wrong in the past when implementing any change, it is only natural that your workforce will resist change when it eventually comes up again.
Likewise, if employees have had any bad experience with change, whether in their previous place of work or even in their personal lives, they will be scared of it.
Office Politics – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Every organization has some factions and in-house politics, regardless of how collaborative the workspace is.
Therefore, sometimes, resistance to change may be some sort of political strategy.
A section of the workforce may simply be resisting change because they want to undermine the effort of the person leading it.
At other times, it may be because a section simply does not see the need for the change.
They may feel the change is either unnecessary or wrong.
And then they will do everything to ensure every effort geared toward actualizing the change fails.
A lot of employees hate change in an organization because of this reason.
Sometimes, change may mean learning a new skill.
And some employees may feel like they do not have the capacity to do this.
They may already see themselves failing at it.
However, they may not want to admit this and would rather resist the change altogether.
People like this may insist that there’s nothing wrong with the current way of doing things.
And that they know all they have to know to properly do their jobs; they often lack the learning mindset.
Sadly, if not properly handled, these people can end up influencing more people and creating more resistance to change.
If change is being introduced at the wrong time, it may lead to resistance.
When you introduce change and try to implement it at the same time another major project or initiative is going on in the organization, it may simply be met with resistance.
So, you want to properly time when you introduce change to your organization.
If the workforce does not trust the leaders and management of the organization, change may not thrive.
Employees may think the change is simply an effort by the management to make their working situation worse.
If employees are treated with respect, they will come to trust that the company is always after their well-being.
So, whenever a change is introduced, they won’t see it as a malicious threat.
Rather, they will believe it is all for the betterment of the organization and even themselves.
Therefore, the chances of them fighting against it may significantly reduce.
Tips on How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Now, you know the reasons why people within your organization may resist change.
The big question now is how do you avoid or solve these issues?
What do you do to prevent or stop people within your organization from resisting change?
Well, there are so many ways you can do this.
Here, we’ll discuss 6 tips on how you can overcome resistance to change in your organization.
1. Discuss Why
Some people in an organization simply carry out their duties in the workplace without knowing why they have to do them.
They do the things they do just because they have to do them.
Not because they know why they are doing those things.
Sadly, this often leads to reduced productivity because with time they may start to feel like they are not adding any value to the organization.
But when people know why they are doing a task, they tend to be productive; they tend to do things more deliberately and effectively.
Likewise, people will likely resist change if they do not know its importance and purpose.
But once they know the reason for the change, they will see its importance and will be more inclined to adapt to it.
So, it is your job as a leader or business owner to make sure everyone in your organization understands whatever change you are looking to implement.
Take out time to properly educate the people within the organization about the change and why it is important.
Do not just throw the change at them and expect them to be okay with it just because you say it is the best way to do things now.
2. Ensure Proper Communication
Poor communication is one of the reasons people within an organization tend to resist change.
When you do not properly communicate the why, how, who, and when of any change, people may feel threatened or scared of the change.
So, you need to properly communicate the details of the change to everyone in the organization.
And, remember that communication is a two-way street.
It won’t do if you do all the talking without listening.
Sending all the details of the change in an email may not be the best idea.
This is because the receiver may miss some important details.
Also, when you use this means of communication, you do not leave room for proper communication.
You won’t get to listen to what the person on the other end receives what you have shared.
This is why physical communication is better when discussing the details of a change.
Talk about the change during the meeting.
This way, people will better understand what you are talking about because they can hear the tone of your voice and even read your facial cues.
When talking about the change, ensure you also listen to what the people have to say.
3. Listen to the Resistance – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Some organizations often think the best way to handle resistance to change is to avoid or silence it.
This is especially true if the resistance is active and outspoken.
But this may create more trouble further down the line.
So, it is not what you want to do when you find yourself in this situation.
A non-toxic workplace values and respects everyone in the workforce.
They know that everyone has an opinion, and they do not prevent people from expressing their opinions.
So, even in a situation like this, they are willing to listen to the opposing voices and understand their point of view.
This is the same thing you should do too.
Listen to the resistance.
You never can tell; their opinion may be just what your organization needs at that point in time.
And even if the opinion of the resistance is not right for the organization, listening to them will help you figure out the best way to make the opposing side see things your way.
You can better understand the reason for their resistance.
Then, you can come up with the best strategy to combat the issue.
4. Help Them See the Benefits the Change Offers Them – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Typically, when trying to implement a change within your organization, your focus is on how the change will benefit the organization.
But one thing you should take note of is that your workforce is a major part of your company.
So, you should also be concerned about how the change will affect and benefit your workforce.
You should also tell your workforce how they will benefit from the change.
People typically want to build themselves and become better at what they do.
Therefore, if you are offering them a chance to do this, they naturally will accept it.
If people within your organization understand that the change you are trying to implement will benefit them in any way, they most likely won’t resist it.
Rather, they will embrace it and see it for the opportunity it is.
5. Properly Manage the Change – How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
Even though everyone in the organization accepts the vision for the change and even sees the benefits they stand to enjoy from it, the change may overwhelm them if not properly handled.
When they start feeling overwhelmed, they most likely will give up trying to adapt.
This is why you need to ensure that you properly manage the change when implementing it.
For starters, it may be best to roll out the change bit by bit.
Do not just heap it all at once on the workforce.
Split up the implementation plan into stages and ensure you carry everyone along through all the stages.
Also, regularly check how everyone is adapting to the change.
Ask for feedback and draw back a bit if it seems too overwhelming.
6. Train and Provide Support
Remember, most people resist change because they fear they lack the competence to adapt to it.
However, they won’t openly admit this; they would rather sabotage the change by strongly resisting it.
But the root cause of the problem, in this case, is fear of incompetence.
So, if you address this issue, you will likely take out the resistance.
And the best way to address this issue is by properly training your workforce to make it easier for them to adapt to the change.
You also need to provide ample support to them.
How? Well, you can consider guided discussions.
During these meetings let people speak about their struggles with adapting to the change.
When you hear their complaints and frustrations, try to come up with the best way to support them through the challenges.
Visit here to learn more on how to get feedback from your employees.
Also, consider the different stages of change, and try to provide the necessary support needed for each stage.
Conclusion on How to Overcome Resistance to Change in an Organization
People within your organization will likely resist when you try to introduce a change in the organization.
There are so many reasons why they may resist.
And you need to understand these reasons and also look for the best means to tackle them.
This article has discussed some important tips that can help you do this.
However, some resistance may be unique and organization-specific.
In cases like these, you need to properly understand the reason behind the resistance and come up with the best strategy to tackle them.
It may include changing your company culture or learning to treat your workforce better.