The next time you hear a motivational speaker intone, "People have to want to change," head for the door. Such nonsense stymies the best managers.
In truth, change is typically imposed on people. They don't like it, and they may only go along grudgingly.
Employees will rarely embrace change just because you command them to do so. But you can induce them to accept disruptive reforms rather than erect walls of resistance.
Many managers fall into the trap of championing change wholeheartedly. But if you parrot the CEO's talking points without making an effort to understand employees' concerns, you'll sound like a politician trying to win over a disbelieving audience of cynical voters.
Beware of endorsing organizational upheaval with an attitude of, "I'm going to make everyone see the light." Instead, show that you understand the comfortable aspects of the status quo—and promise employees that you'll preserve what you can.
It's normal for workers to disapprove of change if it means less of something (money, job security, etc.) that they currently receive and deem valuable. Acknowledge what they may lose while explaining what more they can expect (better work conditions, expanded career opportunities, etc.).
Implement change in well-defined increments. While quick, massive upheavals are sometimes necessary in a crisis, the likelihood of prolonged resistance plummets when you move gradually and communicate clearly every step of the way.
In planning a change campaign, heed the wisdom of an ancient Chinese proverb, "He who would move mountains begins by carrying away small stones."
Introduce reforms as vital parts of a whole. Break down large-scale changes into bite-size modifications so that you make each step in the process as digestible as possible:
Start with a trial. Encourage experimentation when you're phasing in new systems. Then meet with employees to discuss ways to improve upon their initial experience.
Provide choice. Rather than tell everyone how they must comply with change initiatives, present your vision and then give people leeway in deciding how to follow through. The more freedom you give them in the execution stage, the more likely they will buy in to the change.