In the business world, resistance has all kinds of connotations associated and there are reasons why people suddenly get quiet when presented, in particular, with change. If you think about the word resistance, it tends to invoke negativity right from the beginning. The word itself suggests confrontation, or the idea that a battle may be looming. So what can we expect here? Tears, anger, passive aggressive silences? Yes, yes and yes. Sounds like all your family gatherings rolled into one, doesn’t it? Just saying.
Change is not made without inconvenience. It is as inevitable as taxes and death, so business needs to look at how to strategize change based on how it will affect people.
There are reasons why people push back against the inevitable. These are 7 common areas and behaviors to look for.
1. The Great Unknown
At one time you may have been subjected to insecurity in the workplace yourself. Very few heads of companies have got to where they are without being exposed to many things, and uncertainty is one. It’s a big killer of motivation, productivity and, in its extreme form, self-worth. Our jobs define us, like it or not, and if we feel as though this reason for being can be taken away, we may act like a lioness defending her cubs.
2. I Don’t’ Like Surprises
I cannot stress too much how important it is to plant the seeds of change early. The reduced stress this will instill in your employees by drip feeding plans for an exciting new future is like a gift. Whether they realize it or not. One hundred percent of the time your intent is not to create a negative workplace, so the key is to strategically manage change. If not, you may just drown in good intentions.
3. Everything Has Changed
Change brings out insecurities and destabilizing feelings in people like you wouldn’t believe. We are, after all, creatures of habit. In their role, employees are comfortable and they know what to expect on a daily basis. If only life was like that for the rest of our days.
4. Added Responsibility
The fear of having more work is almost tangible in an environment of change. If employees feel they are struggling as it is, the fear, whether real or imagined, can tip people over the edge.
5. The Mushroom Syndrome
Kept in the dark and fed on bull dung (I kept it clean) is the catch cry of employees who feel they do not belong or have little input or control over anything that’s happening to them. Common phrases used will be “No one told me”. “This affects me, why wasn’t I told?” Sound familiar? Employees will push back on any change as a punishment for feeling negated.
6. Imminent Threat
Loss of livelihood is at the root of many fears. The ability to provide for one’s family, pay the mortgage and put food on the table is a very real, and justified fear. Cutbacks and layoffs are expected when there is change in the air. Whether implied or not, it is sometimes a human trait that we expect the worse.
Frankly, some employees will take change like ducks to water, almost inviting it. However, some will need to be guided every step of the way, and beat if necessary. Just kidding. Seriously, we are all different but we all have one thing in common. We all have a currency. Find out what’s makes your employees tick, especially those who struggle with altering their own personal status quo. So now you know what you’re up against, how do you go about building trust? Employees are the eyes and ears of the workplace. They know what’s going on and they feel the positivity and also the negativity in their environment. If you fail to recognize this one thing you run the risk of alienating and creating a disconnect that is genuinely hard to get back.
Consistency Is Everything.
Are you approachable one day and a raging incoherent monster the next? Then, congratulations, you have succeeded in building fear and resentment in your employees. Even if you don’t mean to be the cause of insecurity in times of change, your behaviors can lead to your worst nightmares. This does nothing for your reputation as an employer of choice, or providing simply a stable, positive place to work. Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself? The moral of this short lecture? Self-monitor.
From interns to other senior management, saying what you mean and meaning what you say should be intrinsic in any employer’s makeup. If you take nothing else from this, let it be one point.
Everyone has bad ideas that don’t go as planned. That’s life and certainly true of today’s business world. If this is the case, own up. Employees need to see that you’re human too. Taking risks, trying new things and making mistakes is how people become great. Own yours. Have plans in place for safety and any other issues, and speak of them. Change can be a very personal thing, and something that management and the business’ decision makers really need to understand. I mean really understand. Looking to avoid resistance? Then look to who and what may cause your biggest battles. They might just be you.