Embrace dissent rather than trying to bulldoze it.
Once resistance to change appears, consider it a sign that your change management strategies are working. People are grappling with the new systems you want to implement. Don’t blame team members for not being fully committed at the onset. Instead, encourage them to share their concerns. The best way to overcome resistance is by acknowledging and engaging with it.
When resistance to change occurs, follow these three steps suggested by Harvard ManageMentor.
- Uncover what is driving the resistance.
Have conversations with the resisters. Chances are their perspectives reflect more widespread concerns among the team at large. Determine what the key problems with the change are. The root causes might be concern about the workload, fear of job loss or just a natural inclination to keep things the way they are. Only by talking directly about the nature of the resistance will you know for sure.
- Address concerns.
A good deal of resistance can be resolved through communication, particularly if your relationships with team members are strong. Keep in mind that some resistance might be more passive than active. People might agree that your plan has merit, but they don’t accept that the problem requires a solution, or they don’t see the solution as feasible. Limit this type of resistance by explaining clearly what the problem is, why it needs to be addressed now and what the roadmap is to reach your solution.
You may find some resistance based on unconsidered factors related to the change management plan. In such cases, it would be beneficial to listen and reform the plan based on new analysis. Above all, approach resisters with a committed but open mind.
- Draft resisters into change management plans.
People are more likely to stop resisting if they have ownership over a project. Few employees want to perform the same repetitive tasks until they retire. Ask resisters about their visions for their workload to see if there is a way to align their goals with the change management roadmap. Or ask them to study the specific problem that necessitates change and present their own solutions, which can later be folded into the roadmap. It helps if you are also open to making adjustments, provided they are strategically sound.
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