Every business will face change. Change is necessary to deal with new operating conditions, market pressures, strategy pivots, and technology adoption. It stands to reason that a workforce will be impacted in one way or another. Resistance to change is natural and should be expected.

There are various reasons why change resistance occurs:

  • Fear of the unknown. Uncertainty about how relevant existing skills will be, or if there is sufficient time and aptitude to develop new ones.
  • Self-interest. An individual perceives that their job is at risk and will want to protect it.
  • Lack of trust. An existing divide between employees and leadership, which sets the foundation for misunderstandings.
  • Poor Communication. The way change is communicated determines how employees will react.

It’s important to identify the potential sources of change resistance to implement strategies that can address employee concerns. Change Management is mission critical and there are many approaches that companies can adopt to optimize their success. Typical examples are John Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change and the ADKAR Change Management Model.

The Communication Focus

Always be open about why the change is happening and show your employees any relevant data.

Who will be impacted

Anticipate change resistance from those who will be affected. Identify the departments that will require regular updates.

Make it clear for all Levels

The details of a business case will win over Executives, however, the rest of your organization will need more inspiration than a bottom-line justification.

  • What is the change?
  • How will it benefit the company?
  • What improvements are expected?
  • What’s new that could not be done before?
  • Will it save time or effort?

Make sure of the Reach

Company wide changes can cause employees to worry about their jobs differently. Be transparent about the process for each department.

  • How does it impact the department?
  • How are specific roles impacted?
  • What is the change timeline?
  • Where is there support or help for the change?

Share the Success

Employees will experience the impact of change differently. Some more than others. A vital part of the communication strategy is to share the success stories. These build faith in the new direction and increase the advocates for the change.

  • Achievement of a distinct goal
  • Reaching a specific milestone
  • Department or individual recognition

Digital for Participation

To ease employee fears and reduce resentment, use opinion polls to give them choices on matters where there is flexibility. Handing them a measure of control or power over the situation can alleviate anxieties and decrease their resistance.

Emotional Intelligence

Your leadership and change management team should use their emotional intelligence to help resolve issues and ensure a smooth transition for everyone. It’s important to identify the right strategies for a constructive outcome. Regular and effective communication is the foundation for change success.

About the Author: Martin Brandt

Martin Brandt is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for JamAngle.