You can’t change process without changing people…
Post 1 of 3: Megan, a new supervisor, called her mentor, Juanita, a manager at another company. She called because she had just learned about a company-wide change that she must introduce to her team. Megan asked Juanita for some tips because she knew some of her team would hate this change, and she was nervous about delivering the message.
“Resistance” was Juanita’s only response for a few seconds. “Reducing the resistance from the very beginning is really critical.”
“But if I just focus on the positive, won’t that eventually take care of the resistance?” Megan asked, trying to apply the trust concepts they had discussed recently.
“Eventually is exactly why you need to weaken it from the beginning. If you let resistance fester without addressing it, it can turn into resentment over what they feel they have lost. And if those feelings are not addressed, I’ve even seen them eventually turn into a kind of revenge: people trying to punish the company for what they don’t like. Even passive revenge can be harmful, where employees keep coming to work but avoid doing their jobs.”
“Heavens! What do I do?” Megan was poised for note-taking.
“The tricky part is first allowing people to process through their natural feelings of anger and frustration and then watching for when that turns into real resistance. Here are some tips I try to remember.
- First, in my message, along with the reasons and advantages for the change, I mention a few realistic frustrations we all may have with the change. That lets them know I’m willing to talk and empathize with them.
- I solicit their reactions and try to quickly identify the resistance topics and the people that voice the most push-back to the change.
- I always prioritize having one-on-one conversations with the most talkative people in my team to see just what they are thinking about the change and how they are accepting the explanations I offered. Sometimes I get great ideas on how we can support the change, but I also listen for those resistance messages.
- Using that input, I create talking notes to start addressing the things I know will drive resistance. Many times their fears are very legitimate items that need to be addressed, and I may not have all the answers, but I at least want them to know I’m hearing them and working on the concerns.
- Be SURE you never promise anything at this point! You can only commit to supporting them and trying to find answers to their questions as you travel together through the changes.
- All this happens very fast – sometimes the same day as the announcement – because the longer it takes to address concerns, the stronger the resistance grows.
“Megan, do you know when they plan to announced this big change?”
Referring to her notes from the meeting she had just left, Megan said, “I think we have about ten days before we have to share it.”
“Then I have a few other things to share with you, but I need to go for now. If you can, put a 30 minute call on my calendar tomorrow after 3. But in the meantime I want you to think about what your team knows about this change: Is this something that they have heard your customers ask for? Have your employees heard about other businesses in your industry making this change? Have any of them speculated that your company might do this?
“We’ll talk more tomorrow; I’m sorry I have to run. And keep collecting your questions for me.”
Megan quickly thanked Juanita for making the unexpected time, “Sounds scary, but I’m so grateful for your help! Bye.”
Reality: The implementation of change always results in reduced productivity. To help minimize the loss, ensure your announcement strategy diminishes resistance, prepares employees for the transformation and lessens the natural fear connected with change.
FOLLOW US & don’t miss the next PEPPERBOX blog: What else does Megan need to do to prepare for this critical announcement?