People fear and resist change.

No matter how much we prepare ourselves or our employees for necessary upgrades, realignments and strategy shifts that occur in the service business, innately, employees will buck the system because we, as humans, are creatures of habit. Employees are often afraid of the unknown or pose resistance by uttering the dreaded “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” mantra. However, strong business leaders know that shifting focus and remaining agile is necessary to thrive in today’s competitive environment, so how do we enact change successfully and get everyone within the organization on board?

Enter change management.

In order to effectively endorse change within an organization much planning is needed behind the scenes before any actual change occurs. That’s why it’s imperative to have the leadership team within an organization committed when it comes to implementing change management; they really are the lynchpin between executives and the staff. Think of this cross-section of leaders as the core of the team – the fiber that connects the various teams within the organization, helping to communicate the strategies from the top down and ensuring that things get completed. To get started, leaders will want to develop a change management plan with solid components, including proper communication, accountability, and resource availability, helping to inculcate change much quicker within an organization.

Unfortunately, when an organization decides to implement change to improve operational efficiency, perhaps introducing a new IT system, change management is often overlooked or postponed, delaying the adoption of any new system. Deferrals in training, communication, or acceptance by the staff inhibit the efficiency and effectiveness of investing in a new system. Additionally, if employees aren’t pulled through their resistance and challenged to overcome their fears, the organization will suffer and change may be delayed, paused or completely ignored.

Curious why employees resist change?

Here are some reasons why people avoid change and how organizations can help personnel overcome their fears:

  • Loss of control – some employees, especially those that have been with an organization for many years, fear change the most. They feel a loss of control when new processes, strategies or tasks are introduced. One way to combat any pushback is to involve the employee in decision making, bringing them into the fold with planning and execution.
  • The surprise attack – a lack of communication with personnel about an upcoming change, especially one that affects their daily responsibilities, is a managerial guffaw. No one likes to be taken by surprise, so it’s imperative that ample time, training, and resources are given to employees to prepare for impending change.
  • Too much too soon – resist the urge to change everything at once. Even if your ultimate objective includes several substantial changes, consider rolling them out in phases. Too many changes too quickly will overwhelm, frustrate and confuse employees. Focus on necessary changes first and leave the “nice to haves” for a time that’s less turbulent.
  • Proficiency concerns – with change comes learning new things, and some employees fear they won’t be able to grasp new concepts or skills and that their jobs will become obsolete. This is where a detailed training plan, managerial support, mentoring and educating is imperative to lessen the concerns of worried personnel.
  • More work – change comes with training, hiccups, and obstructions, which are all inevitable, and also require more work by staff members. However, leadership can soften any frustrations by acknowledging that employees are working harder during the time when change is implemented. Providing thank you notes, pizza parties and other perks can go a long way in showing how much the organization appreciates everyone getting on board with change.

The time is now.

Change management must be completed in tandem with any new systems roll out. It should be a line item on the project plan from day one, with a detailed strategy, assigned leadership, and actionable implementation steps. Leaders must identify all stakeholders within an organization to prevent any negative “ripple effects” from occurring – avoiding disruption in “forgotten” departments, losing face with customers, and simply deterring negativity where change is involved. Thinking about change management before beginning any new initiative will benefit the individual employee, ease the job of the leadership team and lead to overall success with the company’s investment.