Change is one of those inevitable facts of life and work. Change in the workplace is occurring at a faster pace than ever before and will continue to do so. It is also common in the change process to face resistance and pushback from staff and stakeholders. One of the keys to effective change management and effective implementation of change is the way we communicate and the way we deal with resistance from staff. This article gives you 6 strategies on how to communicate change more effectively and reduce resistance.
1. Align the change process not only to the organisational values, but to your employee’s values.
We all have a set of values and beliefs. Some of these are unique to us, but there are also those universal values of honesty, integrity, trust, fairness, etc. If you want to limit resistance to change, you will need to make sure that the change appeals or is in line with your employees’ current beliefs and values. The change should be aligned to your employees view of how the world works. Demonstrate that the change process supports these values and you will have less resistance.
2. Understand the objections to the change
Any change will have positives and negatives. If you want to persuade people to accept the change, make sure you fully understand the positives and the negatives associated with the change. Just about every negative or every objection will have a positive. How well you handle these pros and cons arguments will determine how well you handle the resistance to change. It is always good to put yourself in the other people’s shoes and ask yourself what are the negatives or objections that they will bring up. Prepare yourself, research and understand how to counter every negative with a positive.
3. Consider and anticipate employee concerns first of all.
Remember that the employees are the ultimate users of the changed environment or changed systems. They are the ones that have to work within this new environment. So they need to be communicated the benefits they will gain from the change to encourage them to implement the change instead of resisting the change. So focus on communication the benefits, not features, of the planned change.
4. Try and link the change to other issues that people care about
Linking the change to other issues will help increase the need for the change and help encourage more employees to start implementing the change. An example would be a change that is proposed and implemented to decrease environmental waste. Another example is a change that relates to the health and safety of employees in the workplace. The key is to communicate and link the change to an issue that is already in your employees’ minds
5. Outline the consequence of not changing.
Generally people are motivated more to avoid pain than they are to achieve pleasure. What is the cost or the pain of not changing? So in addition to telling people what they will gain from the change, also tell them what they will lose if they resist the change. A classic example of not accepting change is the Kodak story. They invented the digital camera, but decided that their core business was that of making film. They stayed with that belief and did not change and people lost their jobs when the company closed.
6. People have strong loyalty to their local communities and local circumstances.
If you can show that the change will have some benefit to the local community, then you will have less resistance to the change. The fact that this change may be difficult, have some teething problems and require staff to learn new skills, will have less of a negative impact if they know that it ultimately benefits the local geographic community.
Change is always hard and often associated with fear and uncertainty. People will object to change, resist it and push back. If you communicate your reasons for change and the change process effectively, you can reduce the resistance to change and ultimately make the process smoother and more readily accepted.