Change happens every day in business and in our personal lives. The same person who adapts well to personal change may not adapt well to change in their professional life. As a leader, how do you overcome resistance to change with employees? I think it depends on the nature of the change. Changes that personally impact many employees, such as a downsizing, merger/acquisition, change in the top leadership…these are changes that have widespread implications. Other changes, such as a change in technology, direction of their department, change in their individual roles/responsibilities…these, I believe, are more easily handled. But the question ‘how to overcome resistance to change’ is not easy to answer regardless of the magnitude of the change. Truth is, change is difficult for many and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
However, you can take some basic steps to manage through the changes. Communication is key. Communicate often and openly. Resistance to change happens when people don’t have all the facts, assumptions are made and rumors fly. Secondly, acknowledge their feelings about the change and empathize. Don’t, however, let them wallow in their feelings. Sooner or later they will have to step up and accept the change, or step out. Finally, understand that there will be some employees who cannot or will not adapt to the change. People are people and you can’t affect all of them. Accept this as part of the process.
I wish I could offer specific answers to the question on how to overcome resistance to change with employees, but frankly it’s a bit of trial and error. You know your people, and what works for one company may not work with yours. But just keep talking to them. Sooner or later they will come around … or they won’t and they will leave. Either outcome is OK.