The Need for Change
Some of the principal reasons why people resist change include the following fear factors:
- Financial loss.
- The unknown.
- Loss of status.
- Implied criticism.
- Bad past experience.
- mismatch of skills.
We are living in a new millennium of unprecedented change. Because of increased competition, more demanding customers, and reduced brand loyalty. Change is more destructive. So volatile is the period in which we live that many top executives claim that the only constant today is change.
Many businesses fail because its managers don’t know what to do to keep pace in this dynamic economy. It is no longer uncommon to read of well-known, once successful companies being absorbed by more progressive firms. Others have been greatly diminished because the need for its products or services have disappeared or are offered more effectively and at a better price by a competitor from emerging market countries like China.
Change Management Strategy
The need for change, stimulated by both domestic and international competition, is easily recognized. New materials, global competition, and new technologies like 3D printing have made serious inroads into markets that a company may have once dominated. A worldwide emphasis on research and development and frugal engineering will translate into more intensified competition for the consumer’s pocketbook.
Today’s managers live in a world where nothing is as certain as change. Therefore, managers who are not skillful in dealing with, and implementing change will find themselves left behind and unable to effectively reach their profit objectives. Companies with managers who say, “Well, that is just the way we have always done it” will inevitably sink into organizational and financial stagnation.
Creating a Climate for Change
How people react to proposed changes is greatly influenced by the kind of climate for change that is created. It begins by building the enthusiasm for progress and change. Dynamic, successful organizations are constantly seeking and introducing new methods, new equipment, new technologies, new standards, and new internal organizational structures. Managers, within these progressive companies, embrace these changes, provide enthusiastic support, and project this enthusiasm to their subordinates.
Creating the right climate for change involves encouraging employees to seek ways of constantly improving efficiency and suggesting specific improvements in their departments. Employees can quickly lose interest in becoming catalysts for change when their ideas are ignored or ridiculed. Seeking suggestions and ideas from employees at every level of the organization requires that managers listen and evaluate all serious feedback.
How to Initiate Change
It is always easier to carry out any restructuring if there is a concise plan to follow. Whenever major changes are to be implemented, careful planning and preparation that involve all departments are necessary for success. There are six steps that are helpful in launching major changes.
Sell the change: many times the job of a manager is one of selling new ideas, and improvements to employees. Much of the difficulty encountered in getting cooperation stems from the employee’s lack of understanding of how the change will affect them. Take the trouble to put together a power point or video presentation that focuses on the positive outcomes of change for all concerned. Selling with this kind of upbeat visual backup will provide a boost to morale and improve acceptance for change by the majority.
Get Help: Specialized staff can frequently be of great help in preparing to sell a change by explaining technical aspects and demonstrating new techniques. Seek them out within the organization first but also use outsiders when necessary
Another source of help in introducing changes are the informal leaders in the workforce. These are employees with no official job title but whom other employees respect. Giving recognition to this type of leader puts him/her in a cooperative frame of mind and on management’s side.
Anticipate Objections: Changes that upset routine, require new knowledge or skills are bound to meet with some objection or resistance. Looking at change from the employee’s point of view will help determine what their objections are likely to be. Listing these objections, a manager, with a little creative foresight, can turn these objections into opportunities to enlighten.
It really does not matter how much authority a manager may have. He/She must recognize that they cannot force people to accept their way of thinking. Cooperation, not just grudging compliance, comes about if you can show the win-win possibilities of any change. People are going to have to be made to feel that the change is really best for them, and that will not happen until their objections are seriously dealt with.
Accentuate the Positive: Everyone wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”. In order to motivate people and gain their support for change, an effort must be made to personalize the beneficial effect it will have on each individual employee. It would be counterproductive, however, not to recognize any disadvantages that a change might bring. Sometimes change that is good for the overall company might not be good for a certain individual. Explain this carefully and try to show them that change will help the company to grow and present greater opportunities for all employees in the future.
Listen Carefully: Employees have a right to be heard. Their questions may be their way of demonstrating an interest in their jobs or a means of making suggestions that would facilitate the change. If employees are treated with respect, as important members of the team, they will in all likelihood reciprocate this respect.
Follow Up: When purchasing something in a retail outlet or online, it is easy to resent the salesman or service support who loses interest in us just as soon as the sale is finalized. After having conscientiously sold the benefits of change to provide better after sales conduct, it is important to measure that the changes have been implemented at all levels of the organization. A sincere interest in how the change affected the employee and a willingness to make adjustments will help to build the environment in which future changes will be accepted more readily.
We are in an era of unprecedented change. The attitude of the company’s human resources is the key to how effectively change is implemented. People do resist change for some of the reason listed above, but it is just as natural to cooperate as it is to resist. In many instances, the difference between the two depends on whether or not the employees are completely involved in the implementation of the change and understand the overall benefit.
The ability to develop mental flexibility, and to meet new challenges with creative solutions must become part of the company’s credo if it wishes to thrive. Developing an environment where employees embrace change is the key to creating a better future for all.
**If you enjoyed this article you may also like our book,
“DIY Business System”, now available on Amazon.