Most people hate change.

But change is a fundamental part of being a manager. My favourite definition of leadership is “Leadership is an influence relationship amongst leaders and followers who intend real change that reflect their shared purposes”*. Note that phrase: intend real change. A true leader does not manage the status quo, they seek new ideas, new methods, new opportunities. As a leader, your job is to implement change.

However, even a little change can send people into a tailspin. For example, imagine walking into work and discovering someone has moved your desk. Nine times of out ten, you will be really annoyed. I have seen people up in arms at such small changes.

Now, imagine that you are tasked with implementing large scale changes at work that will affect the work people do, where they work, their pay or who they work with. You can be assured that the scale of resistance will be all the more intense. Unless you can face up to this resistance to change, you will never make that change stick.

Meeting resistance to change

To be successful, a manager must understand the reasons why people resist change. There are many reasons but one of the biggest is fear. They will ask questions such as  “What does this mean for me? Will I be have to change my job? Will I be able to use the new system? Will this affect my bonus? Will I still be able to perform as well? Will I lose my job?”

In order to make change stick, you will have to confront these fears and find ways of addressing the fears. It is . real test of a good leader. 

Here are some tips for helping your team accept change: 

  • Be open and honest about the reasons for change and allow people to be involved in defining the new vision and the path to get there.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep your messages clear and consistent, use lots of different channels and allow for that communication to be two way.
  • Recognise that, no matter what you do, there will be people who may never agree with the change and will resist all the way through. You just have to make sure you limit their influence.

Hopefully, these little tips will make the task of implementing change a little easier! 

If you read my articles regularly, you will know I talk about Emotional Intelligence and I hope you can see why self-awareness, self-management, understanding others and having good social skills are essential to any leader wanting to implement change. If you are worried about leading change, reflect on your Emotional Intelligence skills first and then move onto leading change.

Joseph C Rost  “Leadership for the Twenty First Century”