Resistance to change often starts within middle management, as they’re concerned primarily with how the change affects their particular department, rather than looking at the change holistically. This attitude can also extend to workers themselves, who are often comfortable with the status quo and wary of what a change might mean for them and their workday. Even after a change has been implemented, this resistance can continue, especially if workers feel the change has resulted in unwanted work or responsibilities—or even threatened their job.
Overcoming this particular hurdle requires a multifaceted approach that includes:
Speaking of communications, this is where many organizations seem to stumble. While being experts on marketing themselves to the world, many organizations struggle to communicate with their employees. Often, this means too few communications, too few channels, and too few stakeholders communicating with employees.
This is an issue that should be planned far in advance of the change. A wholescale communications plan should be a part of any significant change within an organization, and should cover the months leading up to change as well as an ongoing engagement plan for the months afterward. Over communication is the least of your worries here. Determine a communications schedule ahead of time that includes the channels you’ll be using: email, intranet, mail, even collaboration tools like an electronic whiteboard. And be sure not to neglect in-person communications.
Also, don’t forget the importance of engagement in your communications. Change management should be a conversation with employees, rather than a lecture. Give employees avenues to share their concerns, and then address those concerns regularly, not just as a one-off thing. Take a lesson from Mark Zuckerberg1, who hosts a Q&A with all Facebook employees every Friday.