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Integral Management Blog

Addressing Resistance to Organizational Change

To become a viable competitor and win the race, a company must embrace and manage change effectively. Cultivating continuous improvement is a driving force to ongoing business success. Whether this entails implementing a new ERP system or recreating new digital business models, change is a core competency of leadership.

When managed effectively, change is worth the effort when productivity, profits and motivation begin to grow. However, let’s face it – change is neither easy nor fun. In fact, organizational change has many deep and far-reaching impacts, making resistance to organizational change all too common.

Today, we’re talking about the impacts of change and how you can address the resistance that results from these impacts.

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The Impacts of Change

Most ERP failures are due to leaders ignoring the impacts of change on their staff. Many leaders dismiss the impacts of change with statements like, “It’s just business.”

Leaders don’t realize that change is actually personal to the staff. Organizational change takes employees out of their comfort zone because they are used to doing their work a certain way and certain culture

Change also impacts how people perceive their contribution within their job and within the broader organization. Their job functions, tasks and responsibilities may change, and they may need new specialized training and familiarization with the newly implemented systems. During this time, employees may feel inadequate and fear their “old” skills will render them obsolete.

Tips for Addressing resistance to organizational change

1. Provide Leadership

Ensure clear, consistent and repeated articulation of the vision and goals of the project and link them to the overall enterprise strategy. Help employees see the bigger picture of how their adoption of new processes and technology is critical to the company’s success.

In many cases, leadership teams fail to understand the importance of spearheading communication efforts. They forget that end-users have not known known about the project for as long as they, as executives, have.

Naturally, these end-users may question the need for change. Instead of understanding how the system will help the business grow, be more competitive and better serve your customers, they might deduce that it is an easy way to cut costs and eliminate staff.

In contrast, when leadership strategically communicates with employees, they are more likely to understand the need for change and less likely to resist it.

2. Communicate Early and Often

Let your teams know what to expect and when to expect it by being honest and clear in your communications. Let them know what is required of them and what channels of communication they can use to ask questions and provide feedback.

We recommend mixing up the channels you use – email should not be the answer for everything. Use town halls and department meetings when the message is broad and there’s benefit to an open forum.

You should also consider using some of the same communication channels employees already use and that are easy for people to access, and then move beyond these, when possible.

The “who” of your communication is important, as well. Find out who key influencers are and empower them with messaging.

3. Address the “Naysayers”

Business transformations and ERP implementations are a big deal. They cost a significant amount of money, impact the organization over an extended period of time and have significant long-term business implications. That said, you can’t afford to lose business benefits due to naysayers.

Address naysayers by being clear about the need for change and speaking openly and honestly with resisters.

An ERP consultant can help you develop a change management training that outlines strategies for communicating the importance of change of ERP and ensuring resistors understand the importance of the newly implemented system

4. Assign Accountability

In most cases, if you make people accountable and responsible, you will get ownership. However, if you micromanage people, you will fail to get the most out of your employees.

While it’s important for organizations to consider employees’ feelings and concerns regarding change, employees must take personal responsibility for onboarding changes or get out of the way.

Taking time to establish personal goals and document measurable benefits is key to getting everyone on board with the plan.

5. Look for Signs of Resistance to Organizational Change

If you have effectively articulated the business needs, most of your team will embrace the changes. Still, there will be some that won’t be happy but won’t say anything.

Be on the lookout for telltale signs like reduced productivity, absenteeism and conflict. If left unaddressed, these behaviors will slow the change adoption and limit the business benefits of new business processes or ERP software.