As a project manager, we are constantly changing an existing process or creating new ones, as part of the implementation process of a project. You may encounter resistance to these changes from a project team member or other individuals that are influenced by the project, which becomes a challenging task to try to convenience others why the change is necessary.
Why Are People Resistance to Change?
- Fear of the Unknown: Example-The introduction of a new computer system may bring resistance by users as it introduces ambiguity into what was once a comfort zone for most using the old technology and becomes a problem when there is little or no communication about the change
- Fear of Failure: Employees may fear that change will result in an increase workload, performance expectations, or task difficulty, where they may question their own competencies for handling these
- Fear of Loss: Employees may fear they are going to lose their job when introducing advanced technology, for example, as they feel their expertise is not relevant anymore by the installation of more user-friendly, networked information systems or lose the positive qualities or the individual enjoys in that career position
- Personality Conflicts: When the change agent/project manager’s personality creates negative reactions or appears insensitive to employee concerns and feelings, employees feel their needs are not being taken into account
- Disruption of Interpersonal Relationships: A new computerized system could replace the one-on-one interaction with a person, as a computer replaces the human’s processes with the touch of a few buttons on the computer
How to Manage Resistance to Change?
- Communication: Let others know of the impending change, which includes the details of the change and the rationale behind the change, as employees will want to know why the change is needed. Answer the 5-P’s (Who, What When, Why, Where) If there is no good reason for the change, then why should others favor the change?
- Participation: Involve those effected in the change in the project process, as a sense of ownership is established and they become more committed to the change, as they played a role in the process
- Empathy & Support: Actively listen to identify the reasons behind the resistance to uncover each person’s fears, which can provide you with feedback that you can use to improve the change process. Emotional support and encouragement through a the project manager can help reduce the resistance, as they know someone cares about their concerns
- Plan for Resistance and be ready with a variety of strategies for using the resistance as feedback and helping employees negotiate the transition
- Put yourself in other people’s shoes in what you are signing others up to change/do
- Take note of all feedback you receive from those that are resistance to see what you can do to help them reduce or eliminate their resistance
- Demonstrate/Visuals of how the new changes will help them (New Software Program in Action/Training Session), as seeing can lead towards believing
What tips have helped you to better manage resistance to change from others?