When staff work in an organisation for a while, they can get their feet under the table and feel comfortable. This is good as they will work well. But, things change in business; perhaps you need to introduce a new way of working, or some new software. This can upset the status quo, and shift those comfortable employees out of their comfort zone, leading to fear of the unknown and resistance.
1. Expect resistance but be optimistic.
It’s a mistake to think that resistance won’t occur.Change is like a grieving process and expect and prepare to face: denial, anger, confusion and crisis. But employees can be helped through this process to reach acceptance and new confidence.
2. Prepare an FAQ.
The immediate knee jerk reaction to change could be: panic, apprehension, questions or avoidance. Try to anticipate likely questions and fears and prepare an FAQ so you are ready to deal with the initial wave of panic. Say what’s happening, why, how it will effect them and circulate this FAQ to staff.
3. Question Time.
You’ve seen how effective Question Time is for letting people air their views. Do your own version of QT as you won’t be able to anticipate all the questions. Be ready for some frustration, but this isn’t the collosseum and so set some ground rules if necessary and don’t be afraid to adjourn if things go off track.
4. Divide and Conquer.
Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Split and address your audience in manageable groups/departments who have similar concerns/interests. It’s much easier to address a homogenous group than a mob with diverse opinions.
5. Create evangelists.
Every office/team has a spiritual leader, (who may not necessarily be the manager), whose opinion other team members value, trust and respect. Identify and engage these influencers and turn them into your evangelists so they can spread the word and influence groups.
6. Create clarity and remove uncertainty.
Change is a journey and don’t make it a mystery journey. Set out a clear road map of dates, milestones and key tasks to complete the change to remove uncertainty and fear of the unknown.
7.Mentor staff to face uncertainty.
Only a time machine taking your office into the future can completely remove uncertainty. Staff will need to learn to manage uncertainty. Engage a coach or mentor to coach staff about how to handle uncertainty around change.
8. Empower and Involve.
Part of the reason that some people fear going on plane is a loss of control. It’s a similar fear in change. Give
staff some control by inviting feedback and suggestions and inviting volunteers to help with the change.
9. No radio silence.
Lack of transparency throughout the process will undermine confidence and trust. Agree a regular update cycle with staff and stick to it and set up a online ask-the-CEO social media app.
10. Own up to mistakes.
Contrition, honesty and owning up to mistakes is one of the best ways to melt resistance.