New project. New boss. New goals. New office. Employees are constantly facing changes to their work environment. Supervisors who are able to understand the impact of those changes on their employees—and are able to help them through those unsteady times—will earn their employees’ trust and loyalty.
To start, you must first understand why people are so quick to resist change. By knowing this, you can make intelligent decisions about how to introduce changes.
Initial response is often negative. People seem to instantly scan any new changes for any factors that aren’t to their benefit. Then they complain about it. This negative focus often blocks their awareness of positive aspects.
Also, when employees do welcome changes, that initial optimism is sometimes followed by a period of regret (the “buyer remorse” phenomenon). The bottom line: Expect negative reactions and plan accordingly.
Change equals loss. One main reason for the negativity: When things change, you lose something. You may gain something as well, but a loss is usually involved. For example, employees may win promotions but also lose the comfort of their previous jobs.
Acceptance requires planning
If you want employees to accept change, invest some time in planning and communication. Too often, managers throw a change out there and expect others to say, “Well, that’s just fine.” That’s not likely.
To get people to accept change, the first step is to understand what, from their perspective, they feel that they’re losing. If you can empathize with their feelings—and possibly compensate for the loss—you’ve taken a giant first step toward acceptance.
Here are four more factors—the four C’s—to promoting acceptance of change:
1. Caring. Listening and responding to people’s reactions is just as important as explaining the reasons for change.
2. Control. People want input into how change will be implemented. But never ask for input unless you plan to consider it.
3. Choice. Employees feel better if they are given options as part of the change process. The more choices they have, the more they feel in control.
4. Competence. Workers are happier about change if they feel they have the skills and abilities to succeed after the change. The faster you can help someone move through the learning curve, the faster they will accept the change.
So before you begin to implement any important change with employees, take time to develop a plan that incorporates those four features.