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When managing a change project, even a small one, you should expect a broad range of reactions from your teams and colleagues. Some will be shocked, worried or angry; others may be excited or impatient; others ambivalent. To get the best commitment, performance and productivity from your teams you need to help employees accept and feel positive about the change.
|Early adaptors "Drivers" (10%)||Middle adaptors "Riders" (80%)||Late adaptors "Draggers" (10%)|
John Fisher's model of personal change - The Personal Transition Curve - is an analysis of how employees deal with change. This model is a reference for employees dealing with personal change and for managers and organisations helping employees to deal with personal change.
Reference: Fisher, John, 2012, Process of Personal Transition, Available from: http://www.businessballs.com/personalchangeprocess.htm
1. During Denial
3. During Commitment
2. During Resistance
4. During Exploration
Employees can and do resist change. Resistance slows down the change process and affects the foundation step of creating a sense of urgency. It also introduces confusion. If the change is difficult and you are under stress, it will be tempting to ignore or enter into conflict with those who are resistant to the change. While it might be easiest to keep resistors out of the change process, you may need to try to 'win over' some resisters in order to progress your desired change - resisters can have a huge influence on how well the change does or doesn't progress.
|Identify the resistance|
|Acknowledge and name the resistance|
|Be quiet, listen and let the person respond|
|Enable employees to say goodbye to the past|
In their article 'Choosing strategies for change' (2008), Kotter and Schlesinger outline six approaches to addressing the common forms of resistance to change. These approaches, along with their advantages and disadvantages, are explained in the table below.
|Approach||Commonly used in situations where||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Education and communication||There is a lack of information or inaccurate information and analysis.||Once persuaded, employees will often help with the implementation of the change.||Can be very time consuming if lots of employees are involved.|
|Participation and involvement||The initiators do not have all the information they need to design the change and others have considerable power to resist the change.||Employees who participate in the change will be committed to implementing it, and any relevant information they have will be integrated into the change plan.||Can be very time consuming if participants design an inappropriate change.|
|Facilitation and support||Employees are resisting because of adjustment problems.||No other approach works as well with adjustment problems.||Can be time consuming, expensive and still fail.|
|Negotiation and agreement||Someone or some group will clearly lose out in a change and that person or group has considerable power to resist the change.||This can be relatively easy way to avoid major resistance.||Can be too expensive in many cases if it alerts others to negotiate for compliance.|
|Manipulation and co-optation||Other tactics will not work or are too expensive.||This can offer a relatively quick and inexpensive solution to resistance problems.||Can lead to future problems if employees feel manipulated.|
|Explicit and implicit coercion||Speed is essential and the change initiators possess considerable power.||This approach is speedy and can overcome any kind of resistance.||Can be risky if it leaves employees mad at the initiators.|
As a manager you are responsible for implementing agency priorities, managing within budgets and consulting with and supporting your employees. Significant change, even impending change, in the workplace can result in employees having a range of reactions which may vary in intensity over time.
To best manage change it is important that you:
The following are tips on how best to communicate with and support your employees during times of change.
In communicating with your employees you should:
You should use different formats for communicating including meetings, written material, emails, fact sheets and personal discussions.
It is also important that when you do communicate with employees that you remain calm, be precise and to the point, accept responsibility for the decisions that have been made and don’t try to be a counsellor.
When you are communicating with employees you don’t have to agree with their reactions or emotions, but you do need to keep calm and respect their views. You should acknowledge what they are saying to you, and don’t dismiss their concerns.
It’s important that those employees left in the workplace are not forgotten, as they may be both concerned about their own future work changes and concerned that they need to pick up the workload of any employees who have left.
To support your team you should:
Managing the implementation of change can be stressful for you as you deal with the reaction of employees. It’s important that you look after yourself, and watch for your own signs of fatigue and stress. Some tips on what you can do are:
It’s important that you encourage employees to seek professional help if:
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