To be a viable competitor, a company must embrace and manage change. Instilling a culture of continuous improvement is a driving force to ongoing business success. Whether this entails implementing a new ERP system or creating new digital business models, change is a core competency of leadership.

If managed effectively, change is worth the effort when productivity, morale and profits begin to grow. However, let’s face it – change is neither easy nor fun. In fact, organizational change has many deep and far-reaching impacts, making resistance to organizational change all too common.

Today, we’re talking about the impacts of change and how you can address the resistance that results from these impacts.

The Impacts of Change

Most ERP failures are due to leaders ignoring the impacts of change on their staff. Many leaders dismiss the impacts of change with statements like, “It’s just business.”

They don’t realize that change is actually personal. Organizational change takes employees out of their comfort zone because they are used to doing their work a certain way.

Change also impacts how people perceive their contribution within their job and within the broader organization. Their job functions, tasks and responsibilities may change, and they may need new and specialized training. During this time, employees may feel inadequate and fear their “old” skills will render them obsolete.

Change Management Case Study

We helped this manufacturing organization prepare its employees for new technology and processes.

The Discomfort Zone vs. the Panic Zone

Considering that change is disruptive to the status quo, and often impacts the entire organization, it’s important for change management leadership to guide employees through the process while encouraging them to go to their discomfort zone, where innovation, inspiration and personal growth thrive.

However, some people will move past this space into the panic zone, where fear and uncertainty reside. If this happens, the employee may shut down or even disrupt or undermine the success of the project.

5 Tips for Addressing Resistance to Organizational Change

Let’s say you’ve taken the necessary steps to engage team members from the onset. You’ve solicited feedback, provided comprehensive communications and adequately planned for implementation. Yet, despite your best efforts and investments, you still have pockets of change resistance.

There inevitably will be people who want things to stay the same and question the value or need to change. They think, “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”

What should you do? Here are five steps leadership and project teams can take to address change resistance:

1. Provide Leadership

Ensure clear, consistent and repeated articulation of the vision and goals of the project and link them to the overall enterprise strategy. Help employees see the bigger picture of how their adoption of new processes and technology is critical to the company’s success.

In many cases, leadership teams fail to understand the importance of spearheading communication efforts. They forget that end-users have not known known about the project for as long as they, as executives, have.

Naturally, these end-users may question the need for change. Instead of understanding how the system will help the business grow, be more competitive and better serve your customers, they might deduce that it is an easy way to cut costs and eliminate staff.

In contrast, when leadership strategically communicates with employees, they are more likely to understand the need for change and less likely to resist it.

2. Communicate Early and Often

Let your teams know what to expect and when to expect it by being honest and clear in your communications. Let them know what is required of them and what channels of communication they can use to ask questions and provide feedback.

We recommend mixing up the channels you use – email should not be the answer for everything. Use town halls and department meetings when the message is broad and there’s benefit to an open forum. 

You should also consider using some of the same communication channels employees already use and that are easy for people to access, and then move beyond these, when possible.

The “who” of your communication is important, as well. Find out who key influencers are and empower them with messaging.

3. Address the Naysayers

Business transformations and ERP implementations are a big deal. They cost a significant amount of money, impact the organization over an extended period of time and have significant long-term business implications. That said, you can’t afford to lose business benefits due to naysayers.

Address naysayers by being clear about the need for change and speaking openly and honestly with resisters.

In addition, you should employ the Steven Covey idiom, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.” In other words, give people a chance to express themselves.

An ERP consultant can help you develop a change management plan that outlines strategies for communicating the importance of change and ensuring resistors understand the consequences to both themselves and the project if they continue to resist.

causes of resistance to change in organizations

4. Assign Accountability

In most cases, if you make people accountable and responsible, you will get ownership. However, if you micromanage people, you will fail to get the most out of your employees.

While it’s important for organizations to consider employees’ feelings and concerns regarding change, employees must take personal responsibility for onboarding changes or get out of the way.

Taking time to establish personal goals and document measurable benefits is key to getting everyone on board with the plan.

5. Look for Signs of Resistance to Organizational Change

If you have effectively articulated the business needs, most of your team will embrace the changes. Still, there will be some that won’t be happy but won’t say anything.

Be on the lookout for telltale signs like reduced productivity, absenteeism and conflict. If left unaddressed, these behaviors will slow the change adoption and limit the business benefits of new business processes or ERP software.

Reduce Resistance with Change Management

When organizational change management is included in a project via a structured program and familiar language, you can mitigate risks and enable stakeholders to be a part of your project success, not the ones undermining it.

Request a free consultation below to speak with one of our organizational change management consultants.

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