The only thing that’s constant is change, right? Companies have to change with the needs of the customers it helps, or they’re just not going to be around in a few years. It’s a fact of business, and it’s also a fact that employees within those companies are going to resist any alteration to the status quo they’ve become accustomed to.
So, what can a Revolutionary Assistant and her manager do?
Most of the time change is thrust upon employees and they’re told to deal with it. That approach has met with some success, but it’s not always the kindest of procedures. Better still is to understand that employees resist change because
- They aren’t confident change will succeed
- They don’t trust those who are leading the change initiative
- They think the change isn’t necessary
- They fear for their own personal position in the company
- They have a harder time than most handling the disruption
When your manager is trying to initiate change, he or she may enlist your help to ensure a smooth implementation of the project. That could mean interacting with and influencing these change resisters. Change management experts across the globe have offered up some suggestions that might help:
Respect, respect, respect – You might feel a very strong urge to just tell these change resisters to “shut up and do it” but it may not be in your best interest. If resisters haven’t been consulted, they could feel like important information (which they possess) has not been considered, or they may just feel that they missed their chance to be a part of the change conversation. Encourage your manager to set up time with these resisters so he can hear their point of view and give it thoughtful consideration.
Encourage open discussion – This change affects everyone, and if it’s a new “thing” than perhaps not every angle has been studied. Encourage plenty of conversation and feedback throughout the process…and be a great listener, otherwise the feedback and conversation will grind to a halt. No one wants to talk to someone who’s not really listening.
“Diagnose” the resistance – Your manager has to give careful thought to the feedback she’s hearing. Do you consider that point of view more thoroughly, or do you dismiss it and move on to the next point of interest?
Involve them in the change implementation – Resisters will often take more ownership for the change if they play a part in making it happen. Hands-on work, and being called upon to bring other co-workers up to speed, is an education for the resister.
Be open to change yourself – Your idea about what this final product will look like may not be the way it actually looks when it’s done. Your manager should not be married to any of his expectations. This maelstrom of conversation and resistance is likely to result in something better than what was originally imagined, so keep minds open!
Organizations need to change in order to survive, and many fail to deal with change resisters in a productive way. Don’t hit a dead end and create a critical situation for the company! Encouraging conversation with resisters, considering their points of view and involving them in the change process helps your organization reach the finish line successfully.
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