6 Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change in the Workplace


Let’s face it, when we get used to doing something the same way for years, we get used to it. We have the comfort of knowing what to expect. Unfortunately, this comfort zone could get employees into a place where embracing change becomes a hard pill to swallow.

Why do things differently while the old way still works? Well, the reality is that change is inevitable. What’s also inevitable is that we’ll be faced with resistance to change in the workplace. Without the proper change implementation processes in place, there could be some discontent and discomfort with the new organizational changes.

Whether we like or not, some situations demand that we change how we do things. So, how do you handle these new challenges? Here are six best ways for overcoming resistance to change in the workplace:

1. Expect resistance to change in the workplace

Having an idea of what to expect keeps you prepared for any resistance to change in the workplace. It is unrealistic to think that all the changes you intend to introduce at a workplace will be received positively by employees.

Change is always uncomfortable. It demands that people be willing to shift from the old, familiar way of doing things and embrace a new way. Expect resistance at the initial stages of implementation of a change management strategy. The key is to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

Draft a plan to address issues and concerns that staff may raise. However, the consequences of non-compliance with the change should also be clearly communicated and understood by all staff members.

2. Effectively engage employees about the change

Make sure employees feel involved in the implementation of the new changes. Since they are directly or indirectly involved in the change, keeping them appraised of what is going on is critical. The employee engagement could help to alleviate the resistance to change in the workplace.

It’s also important to seek your employees’ opinions. Their responses will provide you with vital information so you can review the changes if necessary, or tweak them based on their recommendations.

Ask questions such as “Where do you think we need to adjust?” or “Do you think the change is working for the better?” This way, your employees will appreciate the fact that you appear to value their input.

Also, do not bench one employee’s thoughts over another. Understand that two different employees may have two very different opinions. Give attention to both their views and, if possible, find a way to merge the two.

3. Implement the changes gradually

In most instances, companies fail because they fail to plan. One cannot wake up one day, come up with new ideas they hope to implement, implement them and hope that all goes well. This is reckless and bound to blow up. You will be

The truth is for change to be implemented successfully, it has to be done one step at a time. You will be faced with less resistance to change in the workplace if the implementation is done slowly and methodically. First, formulate the change you hope to see. Next, come up with a plan for managing the transition. Lastly, support the change and ensure everything is working out as planned.

4. Encourage friendships

We tend to relate better to people we know at a personal level. If a company does not create an environment where friendships can be formed, there’s likely to be intense resistance to change in the workplace.

A company should cultivate a culture that fosters deeper connections among senior and junior employees. An excellent example of such a culture is employer-sponsored fun days. During these events, employees get to know each other in a non-work environment. The events provide them with bonding opportunities, so they don’t feel like they’re strangers in the office. This way, if an employee has a different opinion, others are more likely to understand where they are coming from. People will also be more likely to speak up with concerns and trust those making the changes.

5. Get to the bottom of the resistance

If you’re observant, you will notice the tell-tale signs of resistance to change in the workplace. You must understand the reason the proposed changes aren’t sitting well with the employees. For instance, you might notice an increase in complaints. In some cases, essential staff may fail to show up for important meetings. Others may bluntly refuse to participate in new ventures.

Some of the main reasons employees resist change are fear of losing their jobs, lack of support from managers, and inadequate knowledge as to why the changes are being effected, among others.

After identifying the reason behind the resistance, address them as quickly and effectively as possible. For example, you might want to assure the employees that the new changes won’t result in job losses. They are also likely to embrace the changes if you convince them why the business must do things differently.

6. Communicate with employees

The importance of communication within a company cannot be overemphasized. Be generous with the information communicated to the employees to keep them in the loop of what is happening.

With the many communication platforms we have today, there is no reason why employees should be left out. You might choose to have face-to-face meetings with your employees, send emails or engage with them through social media. Whatever platform you choose, ensure there is no ambiguity in the information being communicated to employees.


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