Much of our daily lives are structured around a scheduled routine and knowing what is going to happen next – what time we’re going to get up, go to work, leave work, eat dinner and watch our favourite TV programme. Although we welcome the weekend and our holidays, it’s the daily routine and the known that makes us feel safe in our comfort zone.
It’s no wonder then that as soon as change happens at work – like being handed new technology to work with – that the change shakes some of us to our core and triggers our resistance button. So, what can you do to manage your employees’ resistance to change?
Tip 1: recognise that resistance to change is healthy
Physiologically, it is natural for human beings to revert to what the brain knows. This provides certainty and security, which most employees strive for in today’s changing world of work; that has shifted from an environment that has historically provided ‘jobs for life’ to one that is now structurally and culturally flexible for survival. Our working world is moving against human nature!
All employee engagement should address the thinking that resistance to change is a natural behaviour so, how can we help make it easier for everyone?
Tip 2: understand what’s driving employee resistance
Anxiety about the unknown is driven by fear and fear is usually at the crux of resistance. With technology change, people tend to be scared to face the challenge of learning how to use new software applications and hardware, and lack the confidence to tackle a new tool-set. Many worry they will fail and expose themselves to peers and seniors; others are concerned that it may mean an increased workload, additional job responsibilities or it will take them longer to complete tasks. With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the promotion of technology for efficiencies, unsurprisingly, many employees fear the change will mean they lose their jobs.
Find out what is driving employee resistance. Create messaging that addresses these fears (avoid technical speak!) and embed it into everything you do in the change process – engagement, communications and training.
Tip 3: plan for managing change resistance
Early on, investigate and identify individuals and teams who are likely to resist change and accommodate for them – both collectively and individually. Get them involved and tap into their emotions to understand their drivers. Some people may need more understanding of the technology through training, others coaching to be more accepting of the change ; and for some, clear communications and messaging will help them to realise the benefits. Importantly, identify the minority who’s adrenaline pumps at the prospect of change and channel these people as your champions for change. They’ll help their peers to ‘get with the programme’.
Put the time in to plan for resistance and thread this throughout all touch points of your programme. Prosci has some great tips on how to plan. Importantly, excite your employees by making them aware of the change and its benefits; equip them with the skills to embrace the technology confidently; and embed the new ways of working by talking about its success.
It’s an organisation’s responsibility to give employees the confidence to embrace change and adopt the technology so it can reap the rewards of a collaborative, more efficient and motivated workforce.