Change, it’s inevitable. Some thrive off it, while others cringe at the mere though. Fortunately, one thing most of us are happy to change on a daily basis is our clothes! However, for organisations, and as HR professionals, change is a necessity and there really are no two ways about it.
Implementing change within organisations, whether it be small process changes or larger strategic changes, often brings with it resistance and backlash from employees. As far as resistance goes there are predominately two types; active and passive. Active resistance is broadly categorised as being openly critical, deliberately misconstruing information and really just sabotaging the change. On the other hand passive resistance is when employees publicly support the change, however when it comes down to it they don’t follow through or only adopt parts of the change.
Resistance to change ultimately comes down to a number of factors. These include;
Personal – a general lack of openness to change, fear of failure or current personal factors.
Organisational – the company’s track record of implementing change and level of trust in the organisation’s leaders.
Change specific reasons – whether or not the change is perceived as being right for the organisation and the level of planning which has gone into the change.
So . . what can we do to ensure that we encounter the least possible resistance when implementing change?
Fortunately resistance to change can be reduced by careful forward planning. Research suggests that employees’ willingness to adopt change in organisations is influenced by the information that is provided by leaders. It sounds simple, but all too often change is implemented with little explanation behind the driving factors and subsequently leaders are met with opposition. This highlights the importance of communicating the reasons for implementing the change and the reasons behind why the given change is the right one for the organisation.
Another critical factor in the implementation of change is that of buy-in from the organisation’s wider management team. As often happens when change is implemented, employees will raise concerns/questions with their immediate manager. If these are not addressed effectively by an individual’s manager and concerns alleviated it can decrease the perception of commitment to the changes and ability to follow through and effectively implement them.
Furthermore, it needs to be proven to employees that the given change can effectively be implemented. This means that it is clear to the employees that they will be given the support and necessary training required to make the change within the organisation. Last but not least, it is important to convey what is in it for the organisation/employee when this change is successfully implemented. If it means their bonuses will increase, communicate this!
When it comes to organisational change, there are a number of factors which can inhibit the successful implementation of change. That said, if time is put into planning, educating and communicating with employees change can successfully be implemented.