Managing and supporting front-line employees through change is essential for the success of your project. To that end, equipping your managers and supervisors with the right tools is equally important. Training plans and communication outlines can get you moving in the right direction, but being prepared for the most common questions from employees to provide peace of mind while decreasing resistance to change and improving rate of adoption.
You can learn more about employee resistance in our related blog posts:
'3 Reasons Why Your Employees Resist Change'
Why is change happening now?
For some employees, it may feel as though the change has arrived suddenly, and is targeted at one specific area of the business. However, it's important to ensure that employees understand that the change is not to be thought of as a personal attack on one particular job role or department but is something that has been considered in-depth for many months or even years prior to the internal changes being initiated.
Creating open and clear lines of communication is vital to ensure each member of staff understands the work that has led up to this change, the business reasons why the status quo is no longer sustainable, clarifying the need to change now.
What is the risk of not changing?
Although disruptive or disagreeable employees may decide to leave the company, it is important not to lead on scare tactics. It is also essential to make it clear that the change is happening in order to remain competitive.
Everyone in the business has a mutual intention to ensure employees have job security and that the business remains in a healthy position. Reminding employees of this through creating a sense of unity and a shared goal will help motivate staff and keep a positive workforce.
What will the change mean to me?
How much the change will impact individual employees will depend upon the scope of their current job role, as well as the size and complexity of the change and the reaction that employees have to it, positive or negative. Minor changes may result in no immediate impact to staff at all. However, larger more complex changes can mean learning new work, using new tools and or reporting to a new manager. There may also be consequential changes in job objectives and the structure of compensation plans.
What if they have tried before and failed?
If your company has attempted to deploy changes throughout the organisation in the past, with a lack of success, employees will be aware of this and this history can raise resistance to new change initiatives.It is therefore important to be able to explain how this new change project will be different in its design and execution and avoid the mistakes that have led to previous change failures.
What if I disagree with the change?
No-one likes change. We naturally resist a change to our habits. Given this what we as change managers require is for impacted employees to choose to participate in the new change, whether they like it a lot or not at all. It is important to ensure that you take the time to clearly define, and have senior leaders and line managers regularly explain, the business reasons for this change, the consequences of not adopting the change and what is in it for the employees to take part in this change. Repetition of consistent messages that include facts about the reasons for a change help impacted employees to choose to participate in that change.
Employees will also need to genuinely feel that they are allowed to voice their objections or concerns to change throughout the project lifecycle. Employee resistance levels will vary as information about the shape of future state solution becomes clear. Some employees will feel enthusiastic about the initial concept of the change but their resistance may grow as they begin to see the specific impact on their own day to day job. Therefore it is important to ensure that employees feel able to consistently voice their opinions and concerns without negative repercussions or admonishment, and receive well thought out replies to their valid concerns from their line manager and/or the project sponsor.
Want to learn more?
If you're currently combating questions around changes within your organisation, attend our Prosci Certified Change Management Practitioner Programme to equip yourself with the toolkit and methodology, based on best practices derived from research of more than 6,300 change projects, so that you can ensure your change project starts off in the direction that enables more employees to successfully adopt and use the new ways of working required.