Change. A necessary part of business and life – but why does it fill some of us with dread?

In life, change is inevitable, but it’s often the thing people resist the most. Much has been written on the subject of change, and how it affects people. Resistance to change can cripple businesses. With businesses needing to flex and adapt to changing markets and consumer needs, people are pivotal to the success of change initiatives.

Misunderstanding about the reasons for change

A common reason for resistance to change is a misunderstanding about the drivers for change. Early engagement and communications go a long way to helping employees understand why the business is making the decisions it does. By communicating a clear vision from the outset, and relating it back to your existing business strategy, mission or vision. Then your employees will be able to make the connection and will be less likely to question the reasons for it.

Fear of the unknown

People fear what they don’t know and don’t understand. So why should change be any different? Preparing a clear plan, with key objectives, milestones and deliverables, helps this process. Helping employees feel that there are fewer grey areas and uncertainty results in less fear of the unknown. One way to remove fear and resistance to change is by involving employees in the planning phase, then communicating the plan to all stakeholders. Communication is key. And after years working in change, we understand that not all plans go to plan. Communicating changes and managing expectations is crucial to the change process and goes a long way to stop the fear factor.

Looking backwards not forwards

It’s hard to motivate people who remember change initiatives from the past – including successes and failures. Remembering the way things have been done previously and approaching new initiatives with a degree of cynicism – we’ve all done it! It’s important to bring everyone along on the journey. Involve stakeholders at planning stages and make sure that the vision is clear and communicated effectively. It may help to offer sessions where people can gain insight into the reasons for change, and what effect the organisation expects it to have.

Temporary fad

Do you get excited about the next ‘big’ thing and want to implement new ideas? In business, this makes for a fast-paced environment where cynicism can breed. People can feel uncertain about the success of change as it will soon be replaced with something new. Will people invest efforts and believe in your new change programme if they think it’s just a passing fancy? In this scenario, the proof is in the pudding. Real change, no matter the fad, needs to occur and be implemented. Again, communication throughout the process is key. Setting out clear objectives, and a sound rationale for delivery is vital to motivate people.

So, when leading and implementing change there are several reasons why there is resistance to change. Fundamentally we believe in communication to make the job of change easier. Be clear on:

  • Change vision
  • Reasons for change
  • Planning
  • Updates

Communicating the above throughout your change programme will go a long way to help engage and motivate your employees and mitigate uncertainty and resistance.