Sooner or later as a business owner, you are going to want to change something in your company. You’ll get excited by the potential, only problem is, the rest of your team may not be on board.
The change you want to implement might be a new software system. Perhaps the change involves shifting around duties, making your team nervous. Whatever form of change is occurring, I’ve learned a few techniques to help the transition and encourage the team to embrace change, not resist it.
Here are five ‘tried and tested’ methods I’ve learned the hard way about overcoming resistance to change in a small business:
Explain the Big Picture
You know the big picture. You know what you want to accomplish and why. But have you stopped to convey the full picture to your team? If you have, have you done it recently?
Sometimes we assume the big picture is obvious. However, it may not be obvious to them. Or, some team members may have forgotten because the last time you discussed the topic was months ago, and certain team members may not be in the loop at all.
Gather your team together and lay out the vision you’re trying to accomplish, and the reasons for the change.
If everyone can see the end goal, they might just agree with it and get behind it. Give them the opportunity to ask questions so you can dispel misconceptions or unfounded fears.
Show How Change Helps Team Members in Their Daily Work
Sometimes a change such as implementing new software or a new process may seem like more work for individual employees. Show team members how the change will make their jobs easier or better. Show them the “what’s in it for me” at their level, through specific examples.
Take the example of implementing shared cloud files and storage using a tool like Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business. At first glance, it may seem like more work for each individual to have to learn new software and processes. However, once implemented it can save them time because files are easier to find when they need one. They won’t have to manually sync files from one device to another, if they work on multiple devices.
In other words, be prepared with examples to explain how the change can help them — not just how it will help the company.
Reassure that Jobs are not at Stake
Another reason employees may be resistant to change has to do with fear their job may be eliminated. This can especially be true if new technology automates and streamlines tasks.
Job security is the seventh most important factor for employee happiness, a study from Boston Consulting Group concludes.
You’d be amazed the crazy things employees can talk themselves into believing, in the absence of hearing anything different from you. They’ll be dusting off resumes — even while you never mentioned or thought of anyone losing their jobs.
Unless you intend to downsize (that’s a different story), reassure your employees that new technology isn’t about eliminating jobs. Instead it’s about improving job conditions and opportunities for everyone. Although, you may have to state that a couple of times for it to sink in.
Give Positive Feedback
Have you ever heard of the “Pride System’?
The system is promoted by international business consultant Gregory Smith, author of “Boosting Employee Engagement.”
As part of the Pride System, Smith encourages creating a positive working environment with greater employee involvement through positive recognition.
Praise and reward employees for taking even the smallest steps toward change. Rewards don’t have to be money. In fact, they shouldn’t be financial. Granting the primo parking spot for a week or simply giving public congratulations may do more for rewarding someone who embraces change than a cash bonus. Through positive feedback and rewards, you get your team engaged in wanting the change.
Last but certainly not least, make the change process fun. Making it all about schedules and tasks and things they absolutely positively must do is, well, boring.
Making change fun doesn’t have to be challenging or expensive. Small things, like giving a new initiative a fun project name, can help.
When you achieve an interim milestone, communicate that and throw an office party. Or have someone create a 60-second video featuring your employees to commemorate it.
Interject gamification, badges and awards for fun competition, too.
Above all, strive to create a working environment in which change feels good and interjects a bit of excitement. And you’ll find any resistance begins to evaporate and the team starts to embrace it.
At the time of this writing, Anita Campbell is participating in the Microsoft Small Business Ambassador program.
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