‘You need to change your attitude son’
‘Things are going to change around here from now on’
‘You’ve changed! . . . We used to get on so much better when we first met’
Now think about the whole experience at the time. Was it a positive experience? How did it make you feel? Would you rather avoid situations that involve the word change?
As you can see from the examples above change frequently has an emotional charge from your past and quite often these are not pleasant emotions. People use the word ‘change’ to force a reaction from someone but unfortunately without any guidance or preferred outcome. When emotions are running high we engage our mouths before our brains and can sometimes live to regret it.
When you have been told to change in the past have you often been left in limbo or feeling inadequate?
To overcome resistance to change there are a number steps you should follow:
1. Avoid sweeping statements with very little guidance, i.e. ‘things are going to change around here’. This usually leads to frustration, gossiping and a lack of motivation. We all get frustrated but you must not lose your temper and blurt out comments that will have a negative impact on motivation.
2. When we are informing people ‘change is coming’ we need to understand how it will affect them as individuals, i.e. they will need to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ Each person will have their own issues with change and will need to understand how they will be affected. Before you have any discussions with staff think about how change will affect them. How can you make change into a positive experience?
3. When dealing with groups you need to understand each person’s value system. What is it that gets them out of bed in a morning? Why do they go to work? For some it may be for financial reasons but others it may be to socialise with colleagues or to make a difference in other people’s lives. How does each of your team define value for them? Lots of listening and open discussion needed.
4. Be honest! It’s always the best option to be honest with people as lying or withholding the truth will lose you integrity with colleagues. This can often never be repaired.
5. Make change as positive an experience as possible. Answer the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question with the benefits of change, i.e. job security, chance of promotion, pay increase, better customers, safer workplace, better communication, happier environment. Once you understand your people and their values, communicating this message will be easy.
6. Manage the change process. Managing change at an individual level will ensure you have great relationships with your team and will lead to a more productive future. None of us like to be told what to do. We all like to believe we are masters of our own destiny and are appreciated by our employers.
7. Celebrate! As you get buy in from your team celebrate with them. Maybe a few packs of biscuits to share around or finish work half an hour early. It doesn’t need to be a huge bonus at the end of the month.
Facilitating the change process and overcoming the resistance to change can be emotionally draining and stressful. Ensure you have a great support structure around you during the process as you will need a shoulder to lean on occasionally. So, a quick recap on the steps to follow:
No sweeping statements
Remember ‘What’s in it for me?’
Understand personal value systems
Put a positive spin on change
Manage your team as individuals
Hope this helped you to understand some of the reasons why people resist change and remember to get the support for yourself during the process. Good luck!