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4 Things Guaranteed to Make Staff Resist Change

Posted by Louellen Essex on April 3, 2015 in Change Management, Communication, Team Development

Change is continual in most of today’s organizations. Some change may be met with applause, especially when bringing desired benefits. But, often the upshot is significant resistance. Most staff resist when they perceive they are losing something to which they are attached: i.e., relationships, status, physical surroundings, work processes, technology. But the blow is worsened when those initiating the change make these critical mistakes, reducing their credibility and trust.

1. Not making an adequate case for change.
Leaders often miss this step and end-up paying for it when staff members remain confused about the reason change is needed. This question must be answered: What’s wrong with the way things are now? In other words, what is the problem the change is designed to solve? Once staff members understand why things can’t stay the same, it is easier to begin to accept the need for change. It’s hard to commit to something which seems unnecessary.

2. Not engaging staff in the change process early enough.
If the train gets too far down the track without staff input, they will feel offended that they were not consulted, particularly when the impact of the change on their work is significant. Change driven from the top appears to be done to staff, not with them. When asked to be involved too late in the process, a common reaction is cynicism since the invitation to give input seems like an afterthought.

3. Not creating a clear vision of what will be different.
When staff members don’t know what their efforts are leading specifically toward, it’s hard for them to remain motivated to work toward the future. General terms that describe the change, i.e. more efficiency, better client service, increased output are not adequate. A more complete picture needs to be spelled out that describes how the new way of doing things will transform the work. Examples, stories, and visuals all make the vision come to life.

4. Not developing a road map and tracking progress.
When the path to the vision is unclear, staff often feel they are lost in the haze. They may assume that little progress is being made and that the change initiators have dropped the ball. Having clear action steps with dates assigned for completion, then progress monitored, creates a feeling of stability that steps forward are being made and efforts are worthwhile. Regular communication about progress, accompanied by praise and recognition, serve as a significant incentive.

Soften the negative affects of change by avoiding these common pitfalls. By working collaboratively with your staff to create clarity about the need for change, the vision, and the road map, change will be easier for everyone to accept.

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In these times of rapid change, leaders can never stop learning.”

Dr. Louellen Essex