As industries grow, businesses have to evolve; as technology advances, businesses have to keep up; as governments pass new laws, businesses have to adhere; as customers demand more and become better informed, businesses have to improve and provide better products and faster services; as business partners evolve, businesses have to adapt and better align themselves with their partners.
Change happens whether we like it or not and, in the workplace, change needs to be handled well in order to continuously improve and keep moving forward. Companies that can do this gain a competitive advantage since bad management of change is unfortunately more common than proper management.
One major change, that we see everyday, is the introduction of a new management software system at a company. When business executives realize that they need to innovate and streamline their business processes with the use of an efficient and modern software solution, they have no choice but to introduce change to their work environment, whether they want to or not. We constantly see executives postpone this change for as long as they can, until it catches up to them and they see it affect their company’s growth.
Why does this happen more often than not? Partly because people are creatures of habit. Habit makes our tasks and jobs that much easier and it’s no surprise people like comfort, stability and security. All of this applies not only to a person’s personal life but also to their professional life. It’s no wonder employees are usually the greatest opponent of change in the workplace. During software implementations, they are likely to resist and cause major setbacks. This doesn’t happen, of course, because employees don’t want to see their company succeed or improve; it’s due to a whole bunch of other reasons, one of which is a main topic of today’s blog: bad management of change.
Bad Management of Change
Change is a sensitive topic. As we mentioned above, not too many people embrace change with open arms in the workplace. Therefore, approaching this topic with employees is a difficult task, but it must be done right, nonetheless. The more companies are able to effectively implement change, the less likely they are to experience resistance.
So, why do employees tend to resist during a major business change, like a software implementation?
- Managers do not communicate with their staff in a proper manner. If employees don’t know exactly what’s going on (they are in complete darkness), they will resist. Will they be losing their job due to this change? Will their daily tasks be affected? Who will be in charge? How long will this take? When employees have more questions than answers, it becomes a slippery slope.
- Employees do not trust the management team, who aren’t as transparent and open with the general employee. When this happens, resistance most definitely occurs.
- The timing of the news was wrong, i.e. during busy season at a company, causing additional pressures and stresses on the entire team.
- The managers, in charge of delivering the news, aren’t knowledgeable or experts in the matter. Their stress and anxiety for the new project may show and doesn’t help calm employees. Fear of the unknown is contagious – managers should be aware of this.
How can change be better handled at a company in order to overcome resistance?
How To Effectively Implement Change
First things first, the management level must understand that everyone handles change differently and that no matter what, there may always be resistance in a workplace. The best way to handle it is by COMMUNICATING and LISTENING. Actively seeking the feedback, concerns, and fears of employees and finding ways to alleviate them is extremely important. It’s about being truthful, sincere and timely and showing the team that you care. This builds trust amongst management and the general employee and will improve communication in the workplace.
On top of this, once a change has been announced, perhaps via a company-wide email or meeting, it’s important to address the following:
- Why is this change needed?
- Why is it important to the company (what are its overall benefits? Short-term benefits? Long-term benefits?)
- How will this change impact each department or employee’s job? (What’s in it for them?)
- What are the management’s goals and expectations related to this change?
- Who will be managing this change? Who can employees go see to discuss issues related to the change or share ideas to make the change easier on everyone?
By sharing all important information with the entire team will allow everyone to be on the same page and feel that they are heard and valued. They won’t fear the change as much as if they were left in the dark.
It’s also extremely important to implement any kind of change in several stages, especially a management software implementation. There are many steps that executives can take prior to beginning a software implementation. Once the news of a software upgrade has been announced, it’s critical to take some time for employees to ask their questions, address their concerns, read any documentation on the system, perhaps view a demo of the system (for each department), understand what their role will be during the implementation, schedule trainings during implementation, learn any new process changes that will take place with the new system… After all of this, the implementation can take place. Jumping head first into an implementation without proper preparation can lead to major resistance and setbacks in the future.
Your Employees Should Be Your Cheerleaders for Change
There’s no stopping innovation and improvements in the business world. It’s time executives stop postponing these changes and instead put their focus on helping employees view change in a positive light in order to properly manage it. Communicate often; listen to employees’ concerns, fears, hesitations; answer questions; take the proper steps prior to a change; educate the entire team on the reasons behind a change and how it will improve their day-to-day work lives. Getting everyone excited about a change rather than letting them fear it will no doubt bring major benefits to your company.
For a smooth software implementation, work hand-in-hand with your IT Provider to educate your staff and get everyone on board right from the start!