How to Overcome Resistance to Change in Your Organisation

Whether it’s culturally or digitally, resistance to change can be a common occurrence within organisations trying to transform the way they work. Periods like these are make or break but do offer a lot of important benefits for employees and management. It’s important to learn how to move through these periods smoothly.

Here’s some crucial information on how to overcome resistance to change.

How to Overcome Resistance

There are several ways to overcome resistance to change:

  1. Adequately communicate the reasons for the change: Communicate the what, why and how. If you don’t adequately communicate the reasons for change, you’ll leave yourself and the change process open to criticism. It needs to be universally understood first, even if people in your organisation find issues with it.

    If they understand, those issues will usually be technical which are easily resolved, rather than an issue with the change itself.

  2. Allow the employees to champion change: Change is only possible if the employees are interested and entrusted to act as the champions of change. This means they should be part of the process, allowed to offer their skills and opinions.

    By doing this, you can usually discover and resolve issues in a more timely manner.  A process is also more likely to have less resistance if people are involved in it directly.

  3. Incentivise with data: It’s a simple point, but supplying factual evidence about how the change process is going will help ease resistance. By showing the data of any quick wins, you can bring naysayers around. No one can deny the numbers.

  4. Implement through stages: Cultural and digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience. The change process should be split into key sections such as preparation and communication, implementation, feedback and second stage improvements.

    By providing stages, you give yourself and your team time to acclimatise to any significant differences within the organisation.

  5. Listen to your detractors: It’s unwise to go ahead with change without listening to any detractors as this shows a lack of trust and respect on your part. As we’ve stated, communication is key and showing you’re willing to listen will create a more collaborative working environment.

    Giving people the chance to speak, even if it doesn’t immediately solve the problem, will help alleviate any tension they may have been feeling. It also gives you the chance to identify the root causes of resistance.

  6. Upskill your employees: If you’re implementing emerging technology within the public sector, a clever way of creating buy-in and then maintaining it is to offer training. With new technology specifically, employees need the knowledge on how to use it effectively. This creates avenues for further development, providing a foundation through which change can be motivated.

However, overcoming resistance is only the second half of the battle. Without the correct means of identification, resistance could go unnoticed. However, the signs can be easier to spot than you think... 

How to Identify Resistance

Missed deadlines, failed targets, meeting absence - these are further signals of potential resistance. Many times they can come from a lack of investment in the change which could be caused by deeper-rooted problems.

Employee mood, body language, conversation topics and tone of voice are also good indicators of whether an employee has an issue with the proposed or implemented change. In some cases, employees may elect an individual to speak out against the change or voice their concerns. On the face of it, something like this is a positive thing - it shows your employees care about their work and want to see the best come from it.

These signs are obvious benefits to you, as each can be responded to accordingly. 

Implementing New Technology

Blockchain, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency… These are all current trends for public sector digital innovation. As we’ve mentioned, implementing new technology is one of the most effective ways of incentivising change, provided employees are adequately trained in said tech. 

Digital transformation provides pro-active, user-focused environments for public services to successfully craft their deliverables. For example, Digital Cornwall is an ongoing transformation strategy creating a better environment for the work of digital-based public services in the county.

They’ve found that by providing 5G networks, public WiFi and virtual communication technology that the friction between the state and the citizenry has been eased. People are finding it easier to carry out any transactions and the environment of public services in Cornwall has improved. Cornwall County Council has also experienced savings of around £2 million. 

Cultural transformation doesn’t work without digital transformation. Cornwall Council, through implementing new technology, has created a completely different, updated, innovative working environment for its employees. Essentially, it’s provided for both internal and external stakeholders. 

By offering things such as accessible email and skype on portable devices, the service there has been made a lot more flexible. This means easier work for employees and more employee buy-in across the board.

The Opportunities of Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is never a bad thing. It shows your employees are using critical thinking and that people are not blindly following management. First of all, it gives you the chance to ask ‘Is this change worth it?’. Nine times out of 10, significant change is a good thing but if the majority of employees are against it, you may want to go back to the drawing board.

Secondly, if you’re listening to resistance and acting on their suggestions, you’ll create a more respectful working environment where people feel valued and that their voices are being heard. In a professional environment, friction gives an organisation the chance to strengthen itself.

Finally, resistance to change forces management to get better at listening and acting on the critiques of others. Being in a management position may make an individual feel like they’re above reproach, but everyone is liable to make mistakes. Change is a human process which means it’s never perfect. It gives us the opportunity to become more empathetic, humble and trustworthy.

Dealing with change effectively can be improved by transforming the organisational culture of the workplace. To learn how to do that, download our guide.

The Cultural Transformation Guide

Our guide covers the best practices when it comes to cultural and digital transformation. It’s full of insight from industry experts, key advice when it comes to implementation and teaches you how cultural and digital transformation intersect.

If you’re looking to transform your organisation, download the guide by clicking the link below.

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