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How can managers overcome resistance to organizational change

How to overcome resistance to change
Image by kalhh from Pixabay 

An organization may need to bring a change for one or another reason and to respond to fast-changing market conditions. The twenty-first-century industry is marked by heavy competition and companies need to be agile if they want to be competitive and stay ahead of the curve. The challenge before business managers is bigger now since they need to watch the market conditions and respond fast when the need for a change whether major or minor arises. While bringing a change may sometimes become necessary and inevitable, gaining employee support for change is the difficult part of the story. Managers need to convince the people around them in order to ensure there is no or minimum resistance to their change proposal. Some of the key steps business managers can take in order to gain buy-in for their proposal from the staff are as follows.

How managers can overcome resistance to change 

Listen to the people who resist you proposal:

When you propose a change and there are a large number of naysayers, you would like to know why there is resistance to your proposed change.  So, the best way to persuade the naysayers is to listen to them to gain insights about what they do not like about the proposed change. They can also provide you with valuable insights about why the proposed change might not work well or how you could design it more effectively such that it works.

Is your proposed change big or small?

The level of resistance to your proposed change also depends on the size and scale of change that you are planning to bring. Resistance is generally higher when the planned change is big and you are trying to change dramatically the way things are done. Resistance is lower when you plan to improve things only slightly. 

Get others involved in planning change:

Instead of just trying to offer solutions, try to invite people’s participation in developing the solutions. If people can find a problem and participate in planning to find a solution then you will face less trouble and when it is the time to implement the change, you will have to do a lot less convincing.

Assess your credibility:

Your credibility also decides how easy it will be for you to implement the change. If people trust you and you have a history of suggesting changes that have benefited people and could be implemented easily then it would be a lot easier for you to implement the change. If not then people will either ignore your suggestion or look at it with suspicion. So, before proposing a change make sure you have people’s trust and a history of keeping promises so that people know you will do what you said.

Present your audience with data:

Make sure that you present and defend the technical aspects of your proposed change and show evidence that the change is going to work and succeed. If possible use data to help people understand the picture. The use of data and analytics will help you make a convincing argument in favor of your idea and gain buy-in faster. 

Appeal to your audience’s ideals:

To help your proposed change find support, you must try to establish an emotional connection. It is necessary for you to see the big picture and make sure that people feel good about your proposed change.  Will your proposed change help create more happiness for your clients? Will the proposed change strengthen the company’s reputation? Identify what long term goals you are trying to achieve through the proposed change. Identify what you are trying to accomplish in the long term that people would really love to be a part of.

Understand the reasons for resistance:

Understanding the reasons that people are resisting the proposed change also helps develop solutions and convince people to be a part of the change. Is their resistance because people fear change? Does the proposed change bring more workload for the staff? Will the proposed change have a negative effect on people? So, it is important to understand how the proposed change affects the people around you since this also helps you tailor your pitch to your audience.

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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