Merge's Blog

Overcoming resistance to workplace change – Part I

Nothing endures but change

– from Lives of the Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius

Chinese symbol for change
Chinese symbol for change

Laertius may have penned these famous words circa 3rd century, but they are just as true today as they were eighteen centuries ago.  If you’re a manager or supervisor in an organization, then you know that one of your primary responsibilities (and one of your challenges) is implementing change.  Whether it’s revising work processes to fit today’s environment, learning about new technologies that impact your business, or simply implementing a new version of existing software, not only is change all around you, but the rate of change is growing exponentially.  And unfortunately, any change effort will come up against a small fraction of people who will resist it.  Change is inevitable, but unless you actively manage the opposition, your change effort can lose momentum and fall off the rails.  So what can you do to deliberately and purposefully bring your resistors on board?  I’ll give you two specific ideas today, and later this week, I’ll give you three more.

  1. Give people the “big picture”.  One of employees’ biggest frustrations about change is that sometimes it feels like it’s done just for the sake of doing something in the short-term, and not necessarily with an overall long-term objective in mind.  When that happens, people view the change simply as an inconvenience to them as individuals.  Instead, take the time to show people that what they view as a hassle is actually beneficial some place else, and to the organization as a whole.  Tie the change to an overall advantage.  Which leads me right into the second strategy.
  2. Give factual information.  Offer evidence that shows that the change is valuable for the company.  If you have hard data, share it.  If there are other individuals who have gone through similar change efforts, hold them up as examples of success.

Check in on Thursday and I’ll offer you three more specific suggestions for how you can get your people to stop fighting change and perhaps even help you implement it!  In the meantime, do you have any suggestions?

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