In today's world, change is simply a part of daily life. New technologies are emerging all the time, customer expectations are constantly evolving, and the global economy is becoming increasingly interconnected. In order to survive and thrive in this ever-changing environment, organizations need to be able to adapt and change.
However, change can be difficult for people. We are creatures of habit, and we often resist change because it is unfamiliar and uncertain. This is especially true in the workplace, where change can mean losing our jobs, our status, or our way of life.
That's why it's so important to not neglect the human element when implementing change. Organizations need to be mindful of the impact that change will have on their employees, and they need to take steps to mitigate the negative effects. This includes communicating effectively with employees, providing them with training and support, and giving them a say in the change process.
The Human Element in Resisting Change
Organizations often either fail to consider the impact of change on employees, or sometimes assume that they will see change as positive and readily adapt. However, this may not always be the case. Here are a few potential reasons why:
Status Quo Mentality
As CPA Practice Advisor notes, “People prefer the familiarity of the current process over the unknowns of the new process.” It is important to recognize that individuals may resist change because they are comfortable with the way things are and may be hesitant to embrace new approaches.
Employees will be resistant to change if they do not understand the benefits associated with it. It is crucial for management to effectively communicate the advantages of the impending changes to employees. This includes illustrating how the change will personally benefit them and demonstrating that the benefits outweigh the costs.
Fear of Loss
Change often involves loss, and employees may fear losing their jobs, status, security, or way of life. This fear can be a powerful motivator for resistance. It is important for organizations to address these concerns and provide support to employees during the transition to alleviate their fears.
Lack of Trust
Trust plays a vital role in successful change implementation. If employees do not trust management or feel excluded from the decision-making process, they are more likely to resist change. Organizations should foster a culture of openness, transparency, and inclusion to build trust and mitigate resistance.
When an organization has these problems, it can lead to a number of negative consequences. These include:
- Employees who are resistant to change may be less productive, as they may be spending time and energy worrying about the change or trying to avoid it.
- Employees who are resistant to change may be more likely to leave the organization, as they may not see a future for themselves there.
- When employees are resistant to change, it can damage morale and create a sense of uncertainty and anxiety in the workplace.
- If the resistance to change is too great, the change may fail altogether. This can have a negative impact on the organization's goals and objectives.
Focusing on the Human Element
Even when changes are primarily technical, incorporating the human element in the process greatly improves the likelihood that the process will go more smoothly.
According to business consultant BCon Global, focusing on the human element:
- Creates cultures of openness, trust, accountability and engagement
- Addresses and resolves intra/interpersonal issues in organizations
- Reduces rigidity and defensiveness
- Helps organizations accomplish organizational goals and achieve higher results with greater ease”
When the human element is neglected, change is more likely to be met with resistance. That can lead to decreased productivity, morale, and innovation.
5 Ways organizations Can focus on the human element when implementing change:
Communicating effectively- Effective communication is crucial during change implementation. Organizations should provide clear and concise information about the change, listen to employee concerns and feedback, and maintain open channels of communication throughout the process.
Providing training and support- Employees need appropriate training and support to navigate the new environment successfully. This may involve training on new technologies, processes, or work methodologies. By equipping employees with the necessary skills and resources, organizations can facilitate a smoother transition.
Empowering employees- Giving employees a sense of ownership and involvement in the change process is vital. Organizations should provide opportunities for employees to contribute their ideas, provide input and feedback, and participate in decision-making. This empowerment fosters a sense of control and buy-in from employees.
Managing the transition- This activity involves transitioning from an existing state to a desired future state. It requires a period of actions to implement the necessary conditions for success. Three major tasks, including activity planning, commitment planning, and change management structures, facilitate the transition. Activity planning provides a roadmap of specific tasks and events during the transition period and should be flexible for regular feedback.
Celebrating successes- Recognizing and celebrating milestones and achievements along the way can boost employee morale and motivation. By acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of employees during the change process, organizations create a positive atmosphere and reinforce the importance of the change.
Leadership and the Human Element
Training leaders to understand the role of the human element in organizational change is crucial for successful change management. Here are some strategies to train leaders in this area.
Education on Change Dynamics
Leaders should be educated about the psychological and emotional aspects of change. This includes understanding common human reactions to change, such as resistance, fear, and uncertainty. Training programs can provide insights into the impact of change on individuals and help leaders develop empathy and sensitivity towards their employees' experiences.
Communication and Engagement Skills
Effective communication is essential in change management. Leaders should be trained in communication techniques that foster open dialogue, active listening, and two-way feedback. They need to learn how to engage employees in change initiatives, address concerns, and create a supportive environment where employees feel heard and valued.
Building Trust and Relationships
Trust is a crucial element in change management. Leaders should be trained to build trust with their teams by demonstrating transparency, integrity, and consistency. They should understand the importance of building relationships with employees, creating a safe space for open discussions, and involving them in decision-making processes related to change.
Emotional Intelligence and Resilience
Leaders need to develop emotional intelligence to navigate the emotional challenges associated with change. Training programs can focus on enhancing self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and relationship management skills. Additionally, resilience training can help leaders develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks, cope with uncertainty, and inspire resilience in their teams.
Leading by Example
Leaders should be trained to lead by example and be change agents themselves. They need to demonstrate a positive attitude towards change, embrace continuous learning, and model the desired behaviors and mindsets for their teams. Training should emphasize the importance of consistency between words and actions to build credibility and trust.
Continuous Learning and Development
Change is a continuous process, and leaders should be encouraged to engage in ongoing learning and development in the field of change management. This can include attending workshops, conferences, or pursuing certifications in change management. Continuous learning ensures that leaders stay updated with the latest research, best practices, and emerging trends in organizational change.
An employee assistance program can assist organizations by providing leaders with the necessary training and support to effectively manage the human element in organizational change. This enables leaders to create an environment that promotes employee engagement, fosters a positive change culture, and drives successful change initiatives.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit https://ulliance.com/ or call 866-648-8326.
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• Stress about work or job performance
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• AND MORE!
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How Leaders Get In the Way of Organizational Change, Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review
It’s the People, People – Don’t Overlook the Human Element of Digital Transformation, Tammy Pinkston, ISG
The Human Element of Change, CPA Practice Advisor
The Human Factor and Successful Change Management, Sila https://www.silasg.com/resources/human-factor-and-successful-organizational-change-management
What Is the Human Element?, BCon Global, https://thehumanelement.bconglobal.com/what-is-the-human-element/principles