People don’t resist change... they resist being changed

01 February 2011 Esm? Davies, Celestis

Imagine the scenario. It’s the start of a brand new year and you either have a carefully crafted business plan in your hand or exciting ideas in your head as you walk into the office after a well deserved break. You’re excited about what the year might hold and can’t wait to start implementing the new concepts you’ve been working on. You call your staff together and inform them of your plans.

You wait for their excited reaction. Someone stifles a yawn whilst the rest of them smile and nod politely. You can almost hear them thinking “here we go again”, hoping that, if they smile long enough, you and the proposed changes will simply fade away. Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. What you have experienced is normal human behaviour. Most people feel threatened by any form of change and will actively resist or fight it. Their perception of your new world most probably translates into more work, less time, a disruption of daily routine, learning new things, doing things differently, losing control or responsibility or even possibly becoming dispensable.

What do you do then if you want your business plans to fly? How do you make sure that your ideas get implemented and don’t end up in your bottom desk drawer... again?

When you talk to your employees about potential changes, explain exactly what you have in mind and the reasons for your suggestions. Be careful not to be autocratic, but communicate in a consultative manner. Ask them what they think of your ideas and for their input and suggestions on how to improve on your plans. In addition to enhancing your plans, this will also create co-ownership of the plans which will almost always result in more effective implementation.

Align your objectives with the needs of your employees. The best way to do this is to identify what is in it for them. Talk together about how the new changes will make their lives easier, more efficient, result in happier clients or building a more profitable practice. It is also not unusual to make short-term incentives available once new projects have been implemented successfully.

Once you are sure everybody understands the new plans and has bought into the reasons for implementing them, how do you make sure that this happens? Any change should be handled as a small project. Together, you and your staff should put together a basic implementation plan. It must clearly state what needs to be done (actions) and who is responsible for getting it done. Each activity has to have a deadline. And make sure that your project has an ideal outcome or measure of success. This way, you will be able to tell whether your project is achieving the desired results.

Lastly, once the project or plan is underway, appoint one of your employees as the project facilitator to give regular feedback to the team.

If you have identified the need for change in yourself or your practice, take that extra step and put in the effort to communicate it properly to those who will make it happen.

“Change is external. Transition is internal. It isn't the changes that do you in, it's the transitions - the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation.” William Bridges, Managing Transitions

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