People just naturally resist change—any type of change—whether it is changing jobs, changing banks, changing parking spaces, changing doctors or… changing accounting software. Why? Because people become comfortable with what they know and what they are used to, even when that situation is clearly not the best. There can be much fear and anxiety about change, which may cause someone to fight the change, sometimes vehemently.
In this article, we’re going to focus on changes in the workplace. When a change is being contemplated in the way someone does their job, such as the change in accounting software mentioned above, there can be a fear of failure where the person worries that they will not be able to easily learn the new way of doing things, and that this may put their job in jeopardy. Sometimes, the person may have mastered the existing way of doing things, but lacks the education needed for the job they have grown into and is worried that the change will expose this lack of knowledge.
How to overcome resistance to change
Several techniques have proven to be effective in combating the fear and anxiety that causes resistance:
- Make clear to those that are affected the reasons that a change is needed. Also discuss the benefits, both to the organization and to the people involved, for making a change.
- Get the affected people involved in the search for a solution. For example, ask them to put together a “wish list” for the ideal solution. Use their “wish list” as a tool in evaluating each proposed solution. Have the affected group participate in discussions or demonstrations of each proposed solution. Ask the group to rank each of the proposed solutions based on those they feel will make their job easier and more efficient. For example, use a simple number scale of 1 – 5 with 1 being worst, 5 being best. Total up the scores to see which solution ranks highest.
- Management must always be the ones to make important decisions; this should not be delegated to the affected group. There are always other considerations in any major decision such as costs, logistics, compatibility with future growth plans, etc. that the affected group may not be in a position to evaluate. But notify the affected group when a decision is made and, if not the top ranked solution in the employee’s ranking, explain the reasons why this solution was chosen.
- Get the affected group involved with planning the transition. As the affected group, they are going to have plenty of ideas on how best to make this change. Listen to them, and implement the best ideas into a written plan or outline with a timetable for implementation if practical.
- Get outside help in the form of a trainer or consultant if implementing a technical change, such as learning new accounting software. Sometimes companies spend a lot of money on a new solution and then look to economize on the implementation. This can be a major mistake, often delaying the needed change and costing more money in the long run. The bigger the organization, the more having outside help becomes important in making a smooth transition.
Meet with the affected group several times after the solution has been implemented to make sure they are still positive about the change. If not, find out what the problems are (there will always be some), and then work with the solution provider to find solutions.
People will always resist change, but by recognizing this fact and following the steps above, you can minimize the resistance to change and actually make the change a positive experience for everyone involved. The end result of these efforts should be more efficient and productive employees—which has a direct, favorable impact on the bottom line of any organization.