People frequently resist change, despite evidence that change often results in improvements for those affected. This resistance to change creates challenges for those in leadership positions. To effectively implement a change plan, managers need to take an active role in the change process. Selecting the right managers to lead the change process is critical to the plan’s success.
When implementing change, managers must act as change agents. By definition, change agents are the catalysts that ensure the change process flows from one phase to the next until the change becomes permanent. Change agents possess an ability to motivate others, exhibit strong interpersonal skills, flexibility, confidence, and an ability to derive ideas from variable sources of input. Organizational leaders should look for these characteristics when assigning responsibility for managing the change process. Managers, though often not the precipitators of change, are accountable to the organization for leading change.
Organizations are rarely ready for the type of change needed to reshape and improve the company, which contributes to change-related anxiety. When people resist change, they are often resisting coercion rather than the change itself. Understanding this facet of human nature can help managers build support for the change plan.
One of the most powerful tactics managers can use to alleviate change-related anxiety is to provide information. Managers serve to assuage fears about change by answering questions, addressing rumors, acknowledging uncertainties, and leading by example. Managers can remove fears of the unknown by hosting question and answer sessions with those affected by the change. Including affected parties in discussion and planning as much as possible helps garner support for impending change.
Another measure managers can use to mitigate resistance to change is to discuss how the change will protect or increase fairness throughout the organization. Left unaddressed, some employees may view the change as unfair, but explaining how the change positively affects individuals and providing sufficient training related to the change can allay concerns that the change will harm any specific group. When managers demonstrate empathy, those affected by change can more readily accept the process.
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