Tips for Handling Resistance to Change by Violet Dhu

One of the common Difficult Conversations that you will experience is when people are resistant to change. In a COVID world and times of rapid change and uncertainty, change is inevitable, and we need to be more effective in how we negotiate and handle those people who are resistant to change.  As you know with Difficult Conversations, one of the keys is to prepare for that conversation. In this article, I explore 6 ways that you reduce resistance to change from staff, stakeholders, and people in general.

1. Directly Address the Person’s Concerns with The Change

If we remember that our employees or staff are the ultimate end users of whatever change we are advocating or creating. So, ensure that they see firsthand the benefits and value that they will gain because of the change. This process, if done well, will encourage them to embrace and implement the change instead of resisting the change more readily. Most people have a level of self-interest and if you can demonstrate the benefits to them, the resistance will be less.

2. Link the Change to Peoples Values and Things They Care About

We work in a complex and changing environment and people have values that align with changing environments. People are interested in sustainability and conserving resources and climate change, for example. Linking your organizational change to other issues that relate to their values will help them see the need for the change and help encourage more employees to start implementing the change. Some examples of issues that you can link change with are health, safety, job security, giving back to society, and sustainable practices. The key is to link the change to an issue that is already in your employees’ minds

3. Highlight the Cost or The Pain of Not Changing

We all know about Kodak, Blockbuster Videos, and Borders Book Stores. They did not change and the cost to their employees, owners, and investors were significant. People don’t like pain or loss.  So, in addition to telling people what they will gain from the change, also highlight what they will potentially lose if the change does not go ahead. This strategy will help reduce their resistance to the proposed change.

4. Make the Issue Local and Personal

We know that many people are staunch supporters of their football team, their local shire, region, or city, and their favorite charity or not for profit. If you can show that making a change will in some way benefit, support, or help a local issue that they care about, then the resistance to that change will lessen.

5. Be Able to Sell Your idea

To reduce resistance, be able to negotiate, argue your case and defend the proposed change. Be able to do a pros and cons analysis, with the pros for the change outweighing the cons. Be able to do a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis. Then when people object you are in a strong position to explain the change and argue effectively for its case and be able to handle objections. Effective argument with confident handling of objections will reduce resistance to change.

Change is inevitable and yet, change is often met by resistance by those affected by the change. Avoid making change management a difficult conversation and prepare well and use these tips to better manage resistance to change.

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