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7 Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change in the Workplace

Recently I discussed the challenges and attributes of high performing teams. In modern organizations with flatter hierarchical structures, these high impact teams are smaller, more agile, and themselves structured to benefit from individual specialization without regard for a ‘pecking order’. Even though these teams are designed to provide maximum flexibility in a constantly changing environment, it is likely that an organization will still experience resistance to change.

Overcoming resistance to change in the workplace doesn’t have to be a constant battle.  Even though change is ever present, both in the market and within organizations transition does not need to be a struggle, especially regarding those that will help the team in the long run.   With a forward looking and proactive strategy, resistance to change is first reduced and then eliminated.

7 things to do to eliminate resistance to change

Leadership is an organizational imperative when managing change, and leaders who inspire a cultural shift in their staff have the greatest success in managing change. In a 2013 PwC survey, nearly two thirds of staff surveyed felt that a top leader is in charge of change management and almost half felt that top leaders should be in charge of cultural change. The good news here is that the same number of people who felt that cultural change is also their responsibility.

The bad news is that only 14% saw any responsibility for change management falling on their shoulders. The harsh reality is that effective change is determined by having in place a corporate culture conducive to change. It is here that inspirational leadership in flat hierarchical structures is, perhaps, at its most potent.

Here are seven strategies for overcoming resistance to change in the workplace:

1.     Structure the team to maximize its potential

Give team members appropriate roles and responsibilities that use skills to their best advantage, while also providing the potential for personal and team development.

2.     Set challenging, achievable, and engaging targets

Be clear in guidance about goals and targets. Break change projects into smaller milestones, and celebrate achievements. Goals should be seen as progressive and in line with values and beliefs.

3.     Resolve conflicts quickly and effectively

Utilize the seven methods of care-fronting to regulate and control communicative breakdowns. Encourage openness and honesty and engender an environment of mutual trust and respect.

4.     Show passion

Communicate passionately and be an example of belief in the future vision. When other people see leaders’ behaviors emulating those required by change, they more quickly come into line with the new behaviors and become change advocates themselves.

5.     Be persuasive

Engage employees in change by being an energized leader. Focus on opportunities and persuade rather than assert authority. Share experiences as you persuade change through stories that focus on positive change.

6.     Empower innovation and creativity

Give opportunities for feedback and remain flexible as you alter course toward your change goals. Encourage people to be creative, discover solutions to unfolding problems, and to become part of the change process.  The process is difficult for everyone involved, and your team will be more invested with solutions they have created themselves, rather than those dictated to them.

7.     Remain positive and supportive

People find change unsettling, even though change is a constant in personal lives as well as professional environments. They will need the support of a positive leader who inspires free thought, honest communication, and creativity as personal and team development is encouraged.

Employees expect leaders to manage change. Inspirational leaders create a culture where change becomes the responsibility of all.

Contact Forward Focus today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program that helps develop high performing managers into inspirational leaders.

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