Leaders may get frustrated with employees who are resistant to change, believing the workers are just being obstinate. This may cause leaders to issue “my way or the highway” directives, further alienating employees and delaying the changes that need to be made.
But what leaders need to understand is that humans are wired to look at anything unfamiliar as a threat, even if that doesn’t make much sense to a manager who only wants to change a system or process, says Susan David, a Harvard Medical School psychologist.
“It’s the same reason why someone will take the same route into work, even if there is roadwork,” she says. “It will make them late to work, but they’ll do it even if there is another route.”
There are likely to be a wide range of responses to change, and managers must make the time to deal with each one, David says.
“Managers must realize that people will be anxious when they hear about change. There will be fear, loss and sadness. They will have real concerns about whether they’re going to end up a victim,” she says. “They may already be overloaded with work and this will just add to their stress.”
If managers don’t make time to deal with employees on an individual basis and ignore the undercurrents of stress about change, the failure to support workers can be “huge,” says Catherine Adenle, head of communications for Elsevier in the United Kingdom.
“As an organization while your competition can copy virtually every other advantage you have, they cannot copy your people or the results they achieve for your organization,” Adenle says. “If your employees are supported during change, implementation will be seamless and swift. Remember, organizations don’t change, people do.”
Adenle says the biggest mistake managers make when implementing change is overlooking the readiness of workers for change and not having a system ready that enables the transition.
“Organizations that are clued up about change are aware of the importance of involving and supporting employees during change. In such organizations, usually, they engage employees and other relevant stakeholders (read more here)