So the board has decided
to completely re-engineer the whole business, the consultants
have done all the planning, the projects are ready to roll,
and the final step is to make the presentation to the workforce,
and get everything underway. But hang on a moment, what are
all those dark faces, sideways looks, mumblings and restless
behaviour? A familiar story when change occurs in the workplace.
What appears to be make perfect business sense, may be completely
the opposite to the workforce, who may not like the fact you
are upsetting the normality and routine of their daily work
lives. So what should you expect and how do you plan for and
mitigate the resistance to change? It is important to address
both the emotional and organisational issues involved especially
during the transition phase when the resitance to change can
be most disastrous. Many change models use the analogy of
an "unfreezing" of the exisiting mind set, followed
by an interim state of confusion and defence as changes occur,
followed by a "refreezing" as the new mind set is
adopted and a return of comfort level is achieved.
Typically the personal stages undergone in this process may
be defined as follows: (based on Kubler-Ross model)
- Shock - This can't be happening.
This is for real not just talk.
- Denial - This is a waste
of time. Why change what worked before?
- Anger - How dare you do
this to me. I have worked hard here for years.
- Bargaining - What's in it
for me . Cant we change this but not that?
- Depression - I am confused.
I dont want to work here anymore.
- Transition - Trying and
testing the changes.
- Acceptance - Its not so
bad - I suppose we can try it for a while.
- Advocacy - Its making my
Based on the ADKAR model (attributed to Proscii), the mitigation
factors to reduce resistance to change may be considered are
- Awareness - of why the change
- Desire - to support and
participate in the change
- Knowledge - of how and what
- Ability - to implement new
skills and behaviors
- Reinforcement - to sustain
Therein lies the duty of management to provide the information
and support structures to enable the change
Why are this the organisation making
this change? As part of the "reason for change"
there should be compelling information which can convince
all change management leaders and in due course, the target
population. If everyone agrees that the project is based on
good, well documented and substantive objectives, they should
be far more supportive of the changes.
This is independent of the project's main business benefit
case which is likely to be founded on business strategy and
financial results - not easily digestible for workforce individuals.
It should be clear that there are better ways of doing things
- better for the organisation, better for the workforce, better
for customers and/or suppliers.
Ensure that the change is well led
with a clearly defined "sponsor" or "change
agent" with a team behind him/her who see the need for
the change and have the authority to make it happen. Long
before embarking on the project understand what the desired
outcome you want from each stakeholder or user group (it may
not be the same for everyone), assess what their attitude
to change is likely to be, and use that information to guide
them in the right direction. Consider seconding detractors
onto the change team at the requirements stage, to reduce
islands of resistance and forestall later objections by getting
their buy-in. There will be positive and negative reactions
as individuals move from the "it's a waste of time"
through to the "how soon will this happen" and "how
will it impact me." Make sure the consequences (good
and bad) of acceptance or otherwise are understood.
Ensure that the messages are delivered
from the top of the orsanisation and reinforced by line management,
as workforce staff are far more likely to believe in the case
for change and to act in support of the changes. Enable
easy access to the change information, with clearly defined
roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. Communicate
the make-up of the teams involved
the change process, other departments interfacing into the
process (e.g. finance, IT, customer facing staff), and all
feedback and reporting mechanisms. Report the management measures
involved in the initiative's success. Diarise all events so
there are no surprise for the people involved in the changes
both team and affecte employees. Clearly communicate pre-requisite
actions before, during and after change (e.g. for an employee
affected - empy old folders 2 days before change, dont log-in
on change day, check new folders contain all the files after
we say okay to resume business).
Appropriate involvement of the target
user group evaluating abilitiy to perform the change - changing
VAT codes may only necessitate prior finance team involvement
and small training, but changing sales processes may require
full company involvement retraining and redeploying, Identify
the areas where you need to gain co-operation (e.g retraining,
relocation, job descriptions), and ensure there are mitigating
plans and options in place ( e.g. gaining new skills/qualifications,
moving expenses, salary increases). Acceptance and buy-in
starts well before the project is kicked off and the various
change styles that are open to the change team to be used
- Consultation - User groups
views sought on important changes.
- Collaboration - Enagement
of user-groups in cascading workshops or line meeting on
changes. Issues logged and reported prior, during and after
the change process. Re-iterate the importance of their views
and feedback. Demonstration that their input has been acted
upon as the changes are implemented
- Direction - Important changes
need to be made (often without consultation) e.g. new budget
- - The workforce is told that they must obey the
new instructions. (e.g. legal or financial changes that
require no user input.)
In order to reinforce and monitor the
change after implementation then there are various methods
to ensure compliance.
- Classroom or on-line tests relating to understanding or
implementation of new functionality
- Post implementation courses offering re-validation of
- Wash-up workshops covering issues and concerns about implementation
- Line management reviews of personal and functional issues.
- Performance or dashboard measures (e.g. users of system,
number of calls etc)