Enterprise technology changes as quickly as personal tech. It needs to meet the rapidly growing demands and dangers of living and working in the digital world.
It’s a bit more complex, however, than simply trading in your smartphone. That’s why planning and implementing enterprise-level upgrades are part of the services we offer at PC Professional.
But experts agree that no matter how good a company’s implementation plan may be, no matter how well you’ve thought it all through, it’s going to be difficult without employee buy-in.
“More often than not,” according to one management consulting group, “the changes executed are imposed ‘on’ the employees of the organization rather than ‘with’ them. This organizational pitfall can be devastating to ongoing change management.”
Change has become the new normal. That makes it more important than ever to understand the reasons employees resist change, how you can manage change effectively.
We’ll cover exactly that in this article, and get expert advice on specific things you can do.
Why Employees Resist Change
Like most people, you probably upgrade your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and fitness tracker every year or two.
At the same time, people who’d think nothing of trading in their old iPad 3 for a Pro can get anxious when the company they work for plans, say, to migrate to a new cloud platform.
Some of the reasons for this are obvious.
Fear of job loss. We’ve all seen technological change lead to downsizing. It’s a common and natural fear, and deep-seated too.
Fear of the unknown. We all have familiar and comfortable ways of doing things, and they don’t want to lose that.
Some are less obvious:
Lack of trust. General relations between management and staff are outside this article’s topic, but they can greatly impact plan implementation. If employees have come to distrust management, they’re more likely to resist change. They already expect the worst.
Poor timing. There could be any number of reasons why “now” is a bad time to roll out new technology. How much change is already going on in your organization? Will introducing new systems complicate that, possibly leading to overload?
Poor communication and engagement. “The primary reason [behind employee resistance] is the bad management of change in the workplace,” according to the human capital management firm Paycor.
Whatever the reasons to resist, experts agree that engaging your employees — simply talking to them — is one of the best ways you can win employees to your side.
How to Overcome Employee Resistance
There’s absolutely no disagreement about this. The more your people feel informed and listened to, the less resistance you’ll meet.
Ask for and respond to employee feedback. They’re doing the hands-on work, so ask how well the changes are working. Ask if they have questions, concerns, or suggestions. Ask how they feel about the changes.
“How the change process itself is communicated to the employees is very important because it determines how they react,” advises Paycor. “The best way that you as an employer can communicate change is to explicitly tell employees what is going on.”
In the middle of change, people will be hungry for accurate, up-to-date information. Being a good communicator — and good listener — is probably the single most effective thing you can do to ensure a smooth and successful implementation.
2) Implement in Stages.
Attempting too much change all at once can be disruptive, even when you have employee buy-in. Taking it in stages not only makes implementation easier, it communicates your intentions, which builds trust and buy-in even more.
“Companies should first prepare for the change, then take action on the change and make a plan for managing the change, and third, support the change and assure that all is going as planned,” recommends Paycor.
3) Involve Employees.
“Employees are not so much against change as they are against being changed,” notes the management consulting firm Peter Barron Stark.
There’s more to engagement than just talking at someone. Instead of just telling employees about coming changes, make them part of the program. Delegate roles and expand communication channels early in the process. That not only lessens your own workloads, but builds trust and support among employees.
4) Be Positive and Look for Opportunities.
Change can be stressful even if it seems to be going well. Your attitude as a manager will have a big effect on the attitudes of those all around you.
Looking for ways to turn challenges into opportunities is a way to engage your employees even more in the process. Remember, people naturally want to help. Let them.
5) Train and Prepare.
You can lessen employee resistance and ease the implementation simply by providing education and training. That could mean learning the new incoming systems, but also training to help employees transition to other parts of the organization if necessary.
Basically, with opportunities to expand their skills and experience, employees will feel more prepared to handle whatever happens.
Plan Your Technology Future
It’s been said that people don’t really want change, they want things to stay the same but get better. But when you plan change so that it involves the people who work for you, rather than imposing it on them, you can effectively reduce or even eliminate their resistance.
At PC Professional, we’ve been helping companies and organizations install, manage, and upgrade their enterprise systems since 1981. We’ve seen it all.
And our experience means we know how technological change affects the way people work, not just the computers they use. When you work with us to migrate or upgrade your current hardware and software, we take the human side into account to help you manage the whole process of change within your organization.
To schedule a consultation and learn more, just drop us a line here.