How to Best Handle When Teams Resist Organizational Change

How to Best Handle When Teams Resist Organizational Change
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Why Do Teams Resist Organizational Change?
Change management simulation participants learn that resistance to organizational change is powerful — especially for those who prefer the tried and true or for those who perceive that they have something to lose.  But, companies, teams, and people need to change and adapt to compete.

Change Can Be Threatening
As crazy as it often sounds, even when the change is a positive one, any shift from the status quo often feels threatening to those who are impacted most.  So you should expect some team members to respond negatively to your announcement that a change is coming. But it is up to you as a team leader to come up with a strategy and process that will bring the team together and support the needed shift in direction.

Do NOT Underestimate the Disruption from Change
Unfortunately, leaders consistently underestimate how much change disrupts their workforce and upsets the current balance of how things get done.  Leaders also miscalculate the consistent and meaningful effort required to help others accept change and to see things differently.

At the same time, employees often do not clearly understand or appreciate the implications of change on their company, their team or their individual role.

What You Need for organizational Change to Take Hold
This is important for change management training and consulting experts to understand because widespread employee support is typically required for an important change to take hold.  In our experience, you must get one-hundred percent of the leadership team and at least fifty percent of the target population actively involved to advocate for and live the change for it to have a chance to become the new norm.

Four Change Tips that Work
Perhaps the most important factor in encouraging a positive attitude is creating an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere where questions are encouraged and answers are straightforward. Here are four simple change management training and consulting tips that work:

  1. There Should be No Hidden Agenda
    Be transparent about the current situation, the complications, the implications, and what you are trying to achieve.
  2. Gather Frequently and Be Open to Team Members’ Concerns and Feedback
    Encourage a two-way dialogue about what is working, what is not working, and specific plans to move forward.
  3. Check in with Naysayers to Understand their Reluctance to Embrace Change
    Get all stakeholders actively involved to improve the “new way” of doing things — especially those who are struggling with the desired changes.
  4. Be Willing to Meet, Discuss, and Track Progress as a Team
    Consistently share what you know, what you do not know, and when you should be able to fill in any gaps.  Do not let ambiguity or dissension linger for more than a few days.

The Bottom Line
It is natural when teams resist organizational change.  It is your job as a change leader to reduce the disruption and unhealthy resistance.  Most often, a team that balks at change is a team that has not been actively involved, understood, informed, or heard.

If you want to know if your organizational change initiative is set up to succeed, Take our Free Change Management Health Check Now to see where you stand.

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