5 Simple Keys to Reducing Resistance and Managing Change in the Workplace

Managing change in the workplace is a must for any organization undergoing transformation.

Change projects, both large and small, need good management.

A good manager can help:

  • Optimize change projects, getting better results for the organization
  • Boost support while reducing resistance
  • Increase employee productivity and engagement

Among other things.

Change management is all about people – it requires strong people skills, good communication, and uncompromising focus.

Below, we’ll look at 5 ways you can better manage workplace change.

Managing Change in the Workplace: 5 Keys to Success

Here are 5 things you can start doing today to manage people during any change project:

1. How to turn resistance into enthusiasm and support

Employee resistance can a project killer.

It can be avoided with the right strategy, though.

In fact, with the right tools and techniques, you can turn resistance on its head.

Here are a few ways to generate support and enthusiasm:

  • Sell the benefits of change. People resist change because they don’t know what’s in it for them. So tell them how your project will benefit them individually, and they will be more likely to support you.
  • Communicate early and often. Employees who aren’t prepared for change feel blindsided and alienated. This results from poor communication on the part of management – so talk to employees early on in open discussions.
  • Review progress regularly. Review progress as your project moves forward. The more often you check in, the more likely you are to spot resistance as it manifests. Then you can uproot the causes of that resistance and address it.
  • Invite feedback and ideas – and listen. Another reason people feel alienated is because management doesn’t listen to them. This breeds feelings of isolation, resentment, and discontent. Turn isolation into participation by listening and creating feedback mechanisms.

These tips can help you avoid resistance and turn it into something positive … enthusiasm.

2. Why training increases productivity

Another way to propel change forward is with training and development.

Effective training accomplishes a few things:

  • It helps employees develop their own careers. Because every employee is self-interested, they will be more likely to support you if you support them. Training is a way to accomplish project goals, while helping workers accomplish their own goals.
  • It boosts skills, productivity, and confidence. Better skills means better productivity. And the more productive and skilled an employee is, the more confident he or she is. These positive emotions counteract negative emotions and resistance.
  • It helps boost project outcomes. Enhanced project outcomes is better for everyone involved. Employees feel better because they achieve more – and organizations get better results.

Training, therefore, is an essential ingredient for successfully reducing resistance and managing workplace change.

Make sure it is a core part of your change program.

3. To get support, support individuals’ goals

Because everyone wants to know what’s in it for them, find other ways to help people achieve their aims.

Training is a good way to do that.

But let’s look at how you can go one step further, by offering personalized support.

For instance:

  • Offer personalized advice and support throughout the project. The simplest way to offer individual attention is to simply give it to employees. This can offer dual benefits: you can gain insight into employees’ needs and they can get personal support. Helping them in this way can go a long way towards building support for your change project.
  • When possible, offer employees choices during the change project. This isn’t always possible. But when it is, offer employees choices about their direction. Choices around software, training, career development, and other areas can help employees gain control. This, in turn, will boost engagement, productivity, and support.
  • Add value with other career development opportunities. Training is a big part of many change projects, especially digital adoption programs. With a little extra work, such training can be integrated with a company’s career development program. When change is presented as a career development opportunity, support is easier to come by.

These are a few ways to get support by giving support.

Think about your project, how it can benefit employees individually, and certainly you’ll discover other ways.

4. How to maintain and build momentum with rewards

Celebrate progress right from the start.

Celebrating short-term wins – and long-term wins – is a great way to keep employees motivated and supportive.

For instance:

  • Hold contests. Contests are excellent change management activities that can motivate employees, given the right culture and circumstances.
  • Have parties and social events. Whenever a goal is achieved, consider holding an event to celebrate that win. This helps to reinforce the change and maintain momentum.
  • Provide recognition and awards. Recognition, even one-on-one praise and recognition, goes a long way towards melting resistance and mobilizing support.

Doing things like this can help employees see the progress they’ve made – and feel good about it.

5. When to be strict and when to be relaxed

Above, we’ve seen many ways to manage workplace change by offering support.

Personalized attention … career development … celebrating wins … these are great ways to transform resistance into enthusiasm.

However, a good manager knows that a firm hand is sometimes necessary.

In such cases, be strict:

  • Create automated accountability systems. Software – from project management software to training software – can help you track progress, communicate with staff, and maintain accountability.
  • Be firm with your goals and metrics. Goals need to be achieved, so keep employees appraised of their progress … or lack thereof.
  • Hold reviews regularly. Regular communication can keep employees from forgetting their duties and change project.

These types of systems can work as a counterweight to the supportive systems mentioned above.

Like a “good cop, bad cop” approach, use them both to help you achieve your managerial goals.

One without the other can be detrimental – but together they can help you maintain control and accelerate change.

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.