Fear of the unknown is the greatest obstacle to enacting change in your company.
If employees understand why you are going in a different direction or why you are changing the way your business operates, it will become much easier for them to offer their support for the change in plan.
“Today’s generation wants to be part of the solution,” says Virginia Green, Ph.D., an instructor at Woodbury University with more than 20 years of leadership experience running businesses in the corporate world. “They want to understand why the change is needed and what it’s going to mean for them. What’s the plan and how do they fit in?”
You need to get your leadership team involved in the discussion that precedes the enactment of the plan so that members feel like their voices have been heard.
“The CEO’s job is to show the vision of the company,” Green says. “You need to be transparent and make sure others are involved in shaping that vision.”
Smart Business spoke with Green about the best approach to take when pursuing change in your company.
What if the leader has concerns about a change being considered?
No one has the complete answers to every problem and no one knows exactly how everything is going to work out. So you allow people to bring their ideas to the table and build on that. Hear people out and build relationships.
Just because this change fits one part of your company, it may not fit another part. So you get input from that department to see how their concerns can be addressed and you work together to develop a solution.
Hear people out, listen to their frustrations and suggestions and be adaptable, as much as you possibly can be. By taking this approach, you bring energy and positive output to the entire process.
As a leader, you understand that you’re in charge and you are picking the people to work with you. But you have to allow them to give their point of view. It’s not always what’s on the table that scares people. It’s what they don’t see and don’t hear. That’s where transparency becomes really important.
People want to have a road map for where they are going. If they are going from California to New York, they are going to have their phone or their GPS or their map next to them to help them get there as quickly as possible.
It’s the same thing with companies that have this disruption or this dysfunction of one group saying we have to do it and the other group saying we don’t. We have to bridge that gap with a road map, or in this case, with knowledge.
How do you overcome resistance to change?
The awareness of the need for change is really important.
When we were in third grade, we were all taught the five Ws and the H. The who, what, when, where, why and how. And yet, we forget to use them.
They are such an important tool when it comes to change. There is always a reason why people are opposed to a change. Perhaps they are afraid they will lose too many of their people. Or maybe they are afraid they won’t be able to adapt to what you are changing.
Once you find out the root of the problem, you can say, ‘OK, how can we get you the training you need to be able to function under this new system.’ You have a team that is good at what they do and now they are thrown a technology they know nothing about.
As the leader, it’s your responsibility to take care of the flock and make sure they can still be successful. You just have to stop and listen to find out what is stopping people from giving their support.
Change is constant and most people do not like it. But it’s not a single event that begins and ends in one month or one year.
It’s a complicated process that can take time.
But if you approach it with a plan in mind, you can build a stronger culture and achieve the outcome your company needs. ●
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