Change in the workplace is inevitable, whatever the reason behind it may be. Changing management, increased marketplace competition or just a need to move in a new direction can prompt such a decision. This will almost always lead to panic and resistance from the workforce – to the detriment of both the company and themselves.
Resistance to change is a common, almost natural reaction. We are creatures of habit and comfort, after all, and nothing is more comfortable than unchanging routine. This need for comfort and familiarity extends into both professional and personal lives – anything that threatens to upend the peace and add unpredictability, risk and stress into a person’s life is something that must be avoided at all costs! However, workplace changes are often beneficial to all involved, even if they may seem otherwise.
That’s where effective change management can help employees ease and flourish as the latest upheavals are put into effect. Remember, employees aren’t irrationally afraid of change – the resistance is based on their perspective and as an employer, it is up to you to understand their POV to better help bring about change.
Let’s discuss some of the common reasons why people resist change in their workplaces:
Loss of a Job
One of the primary reasons for rebellion against change of any sort is the lack of job security: Employees are prone to take any form of streamlining or introduction of new technology as a direct threat to their livelihood because it would render their role obsolete in the company. If that is not the case, care should be taken to ensure that they are aware that their jobs are secure (something that ties in directly to job satisfaction and thus, productivity) and that the change is described accurately in terms of what it brings to the company and not in role reduction.
Crucially, how your company positions and communicates the changes planned determines the reaction of the employees. If you are unable to chart out the necessary details, the how/when/why and how this will modify the parameters for “success” among employees, you can expect a lot of pushback.
If your employees are aware of the need for change and how it is a good thing, they will always be looking at such decisions with a positive outlook and a critical factor that determines that awareness is the way senior and team managers communicate with their employees – you want it to be early, simple and thorough.
By presenting the change in its entirety, including reasons, execution and expected outcomes, your employees will be far better equipped to adapt and respond to the change. Having an open door policy for answering any lingering queries regarding the adaptation can even get the stragglers on board!
Loss of Control
This reason ties back to #1 as well, but even in cases of high job security, a lot of employees feel an overwhelming sense of confusion and powerlessness. The sense of control developed due to familiarity with their job roles or their daily routines gets disrupted and leads to resistance, as employees seek to return to that state of stability.
The solution to this problem ties back as well, this time to Communication. Empowering employees by letting them know that their opinions and contributions matter to the process helps significantly, providing them a responsive outlet for discussing their fears and tribulations while letting you know how the workforce is faring. By involving employees and their feedback and establishing (voluntary) roles to help spearhead the change will provide employees with a degree of control during the transitional period.
Communication is perhaps the most essential form of disrupting resistance at your disposal. Use it well. Poor communication can lead to mistrust, panic and office politics that end up convoluting the change process and ruining an engaging office environment.
Remember: Good communication breeds great change management.