Merge's Blog

Reduce resistance to change by helping employees feel like they have control

For the past six weeks, I’ve been offering up specific actions that leaders can take to successfully implement change in organizations.  In my last strategy in this series, I discussed one way to reduce employee’s resistance to change – reduce uncertainty.  Today’s tip is also about reducing resistance to change, this time: help your employees regain a feeling of control.

Help your employees regain a feeling of control

Just as uncertainty leads to fear, so does a feeling of loss of control.  When people feel like they are losing control, the usual human reaction is to go back to what is known and familiar, to dig in one’s heels and stay with the status quo.  And of course, if you’re trying to implement change, this is exactly the reaction that you do not want.  So as a leader, when you’re working to support your employees through a significant organizational change, one of the most powerful things you can do is help them regain that sense of being in control.

How do you do that?  By giving them an opportunity to take action.  It doesn’t have to be anything enormous, it could be helping them research other options, or letting them ask questions, or engage in the first step of a longer process.  The key here is to let them do something, anything related to the change initiative in some way.  When people take action, even if it’s a baby step, it makes them feel like they have regained control of the situation, and that is exactly your ultimate goal.  Once employees feel like they are regaining control of their own personal situation, they are much more likely to be open and willing to participate in the change process.

I’ve been video-blogging on this subject for six weeks now.  What do you have to add to the discussion?  What do you think about today’s tip on reducing resistance to change?  Would love to hear from you.

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