The process of change can be overwhelming and challenging for everyone in the organization, be it employees, management, investors, or leaders. However, every organization needs to change to survive in the competitive business landscape. The famous American inventor, Charles F. Kettering, rightly stated, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
So, while initiating change, the leadership of any organization must understand the apprehensions of its internal and external stakeholders and try to alleviate their concerns before they begin the process of change.
Why do people resist change?
The different stakeholders of the organization may respond differently to change. While employees may feel insecure about their job, managers may feel a loss of control or lack of competency. However, what remains a common concern for everyone is the uncertainty that the process of change brings with it.
The fear of the unknown often makes people apprehensive and scared. When people do not know what lies ahead of them, it makes them feel insecure about their jobs and positions in a company. Some people may even find themselves clueless and unable to adapt to the changing work environment, policies, and practices.
- Apprehensions about competencies
With the changing structures and policies of the organization, many people may feel worried about their skills becoming obsolete. Some may even find the process of transition difficult as they try to keep up with the changing trends and technologies at the workplace.
- Moving away from old habits
It is very difficult for people to move away from old habits and adopt new ones. When people work inside their comfort zone, they often become accustomed to it because it makes them feel safe and secure. This increases the likelihood of resistance to change, which makes people stick to their old habits.
Therefore, it becomes the duty of the leadership to make their teams, employees, management, and external stakeholders feel secure and confident about themselves and their skills as they move towards change. Only when people feel secure, will they be able to embrace the process of change without any hesitation.
Strategies for overcoming resistance to change
- Effective communication
Effective communication is essential to alleviate the concerns and apprehensions of all the stakeholders. By establishing a healthy and open communication channel with all the stakeholders in the organization, the leaders ensure that everyone is on the same page. The leaders can then also address conflicts and queries related to the change initiatives and convey the impact and effect of those initiatives using clear communication.
- Conduct impact assessment of the team
An impact assessment is a tool to develop a plan for implementing change and managing them effectively. It also illustrates how each change is expected to affect the different stakeholders. Conducting the impact assessment of the team will help leaders to determine the ability of the various stakeholders to change and influence others. It will further help leaders and stakeholders explore how the change initiatives will benefit them in the short and long run.
- Assess stakeholders readiness for change
Leaders must assess the readiness of the stakeholders for change by analyzing their role and contribution to the transformation process along with their influence and willingness to engage. This will help leaders to determine the significance of the stakeholders in the transformation process as they can divide the stakeholders into categories such as monitors, key players, stakeholders, and outsiders. Leaders can then come up with different strategies to engage with the different stakeholders.
For example, the leadership may choose to engage and consult with the ‘key players’ regularly about the change initiatives, while assigning the role of the goodwill ambassadors of the transformation process to the ‘spectators.’
- Align change initiatives with the core values of the organization
Ensuring that the change initiatives align with the core values of the organization will reduce the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with the process of driving change. This will help the stakeholders feel secure, providing them some sense of comfort and familiarity.
- Importance of enrolling stakeholders in the change initiatives
Once leaders have successfully implemented the strategies to overcome resistance to change, they must also ensure to enroll the stakeholders in the change initiatives. Stakeholders’ involvement in the change process promotes multiple perspectives and diversity in the group. It further helps in recognizing the voice and concerns of the diverse groups that exist within an organization.
- Seek the support of the investors to drive change
Investor meetings help leaders to convince the investors that the transformation initiatives have huge potential to drive growth and value of the organization. This helps the investors to participate in making important business decisions and offering their insights. The support of the investors help leaders to drive the change initiatives
- Understand the views of the diverse stakeholders
Leaders can drive and lead change better by understanding the diverse views of the different stakeholders. Stakeholder involvement ensures that deliberate actions are taken at various stages of the transformation process. This increases the likelihood of success of the transformation process. Taking the feedback from every stakeholder further ensures that their voices are heard.
To ensure successful change initiatives, leaders must learn to strike a balance between driving the process of change and dealing with the resistance to change from various stakeholders. While it is important to implement change in the organization, it is equally important to address and alleviate the hesitations of the different stakeholders. This will then help leaders establish a healthy and conducive work environment, where change is welcomed with open arms.
If you wish to deal effectively with the resistance to change in your organization and drive your business towards success, take a look at the Executive Program on Transformational Leadership by BOD, which focuses on helping leaders unlock their capabilities to lead better. Sign up for a complimentary session with us and engage with leaders from different industries.