Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Change

Organizational resistance to change is very common. Although change is inevitable within a business, it is likely you will see employees who are not happy and inturn, resist. Often, change involves the adoption of new strategies which employees may not readily welcome.

While every organization is unique, one thing is apparent; there are some common practices of overcoming resistance to change.

How to Overcome Organizational Resistance to Change

1. Understand the root of resistance

Why are your employees resisting change? This may take some time, but it is important for you to collect feedback from your employees to find out why they oppose the change. Just as there are many reasons for organizational change, there are many reasons for organizational resistance.  Some common causes for resistance; bitterness towards their workload, anger over perceived loss of control and power, fear of losing jobs, discomfort with the way things are done, and anxiety about the unknown.

2. Identify a plan that will engage others

If you want things to work out, then you have to engage your employees and your leaders. It’s important that you identify all leaders who are  influential in your company, regardless of their organizational hierarchy. For instance, if a messenger is very influential in an organization, do not leave them out just because they occupy lower position as far as organizational hierarchy is concerned. By doing this, you not only develop a strong relationship with those leaders, but you also win the trust and loyalty of employees. It’s important to involve as many people as possible in order to gather influence and create a sense of unity.

3. Focus on the path ahead and the possible challenges

No path to change is completely smooth; there will always be challenges! It is important to acknowledge to your employees that changes are coming and challenges may arise. It’s important to be upfront about the hazy road ahead to prepare employees.  When you are open and honest, you are completely transparent and you show your employees that you’re not trying to hide anything from them. This shows them that you’re on their side, which is very important.

4. Build confidence

Your organization may have faced challenges in the past, but in one way or another, it sailed through. Provide the employees with all the evidence and measures that you took to overcome those challenges in the past in order to prove that together you will overcome the transition phase. Regarding the present changes being made, always update them on the progress. The more they see their individual contribution making a difference, the more they will feel in control, and thus become positive towards change.

5. Communicate frequently

Communication is a very important tool in every organization. In times of uncertainty, people would do anything to get information.  In order to prevent rumors that inevitably spread throughout a company, as I previously mentioned, it is imperative that you communicate. Be honest about what’s going on with the changes you’re implementing. If there are problems or bumps you’ve run into, share it. Doing so will open up any barriers with your employees and allow them to feel like you value their opinion and advice.  Communication is key to overcoming organizational resistance to change.

6. Do your best to avoid mistakes

The likelihood of your organization’s changes running completely smooth is very minimal. But of course you  should try as much as possible to minimize mistakes. In order to do this, you have to plan ahead and again, communicate with your employees. Having a concrete plan where you’ve thought ahead of possible deterrents will help you to minimize the amount of mistakes. And if a mistake happens, which it will, do your best to correct it immediately and do not try and cover it up. As I’ve said, you have to be transparent and show your company that you are doing everything possible to move the organization forward.

7. Monitor progress

It is important to set milestones for progress, usually in proportion to the resistance that you are experiencing. Use concrete evidence to ascertain whether there is progress, and when necessary, adjust. Setting goals along the way and being able to clearly prove that you are reaching them will show your employees that you are moving forward.

8. Choose a group of change agents

In order to plan and implement effectively, there is need to involve agents. However, the agents that you choose should be vocal. To avoid conflicts in the organization, it is recommended that you choose agents from non-managerial positions. Of course, you do not anticipate a situation where everything comes to a standstill. Consequently, make informed decisions when it comes to the choice of agents.

9. Business planning

Business planning will surely help you overcome resistance to change. It does this precisely by facilitating the integration of your plan, the issues of the people, and your processes into a set of tasks. Change in your company begins with you. Remember that it is never too late to plan your future. Get a business plan and be sure that everything will work out for you. As a leader, you need to understand that you are like the rest of the employees. You are also resistant to change! So, how will you bring about change? Although there is no time for change, it is always prudent to plan in advance. A business plan will see you achieve this.

In order to deal with organization resistance to change, you need to follow the above ten steps. With time, things will turn out as you need. Just be sure to follow these steps carefully. However if the problem continues, you need to get the services of an expert experienced at overcoming organizational resistance to change.

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Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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