In this series of blogs, we have been considering the following key points that help to not only manage resistance but to convert resistance into support:
- Consider resistance as a natural reaction to change
- Distinguish between hesitancy and resistance
- Detect signs of resistance
- Identify the root causes of resistance
- Manage resistance
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
- Convert resistance into support
In the first blog in this series we looked at the first 3 topics above, and the second blog covered topics 4 and 5. In this final blog, we will concentrate on the tools to open ‘locked doors’ and the steps to convert resistance into support:
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication solves all ills, but a lack of communication can create more of them! This is a crucial reason why employees oppose change. How the change process itself is communicated to employees is very important because it helps determine how they react. All the points above can only be done by staged bi-directional communication. The etymological root of the word ‘communication’ is the Latin word ‘communicatione’ meaning to participate, to pool or to take common action.
There are three communication purposes with specific goals in this context:
- For promotion
Communication raises awareness, prepares stakeholders for change, and keeps them up to date on what they need to know such as what has evolved, milestones, and other activities such as training on the software.
- For commitment and reinforcement
It helps the sponsors, leaders, and other influencers to awaken the desire for change, to identify the root causes of resistance and to manage them. It secures commitment during the change and establishes the new standard, for example by explaining the change and its benefits: ‘Today’s pain versus tomorrow’s gain’.
- For coordination
All change, and software implementation activities have to be coordinated. Information seekers will communicate with information holders to receive the information needed for next steps.
The following points are important to include in communications to lead effective conversations:
- Take a position and develop your message
- Share your own experiences
- Make a plan
- Be inclusive
- Stay focused
- Let the conversation flow
- Turn negatives into positives
- Applaud honesty
7. Convert resistance into support
If doing resistance management the right way, resistance can often be converted into support. The journey of every individual should be ‘from the unknown, to the affected, to the participating, to the committed, to supporting others‘.
The following are the major steps that must be considered to successfully convert resistance into support:
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood®” (Stephen R. Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”)
There are several groups to assemble:
- The sponsors and leaders who will promote the change and have a lot of influence.
- Other influencers: Move your organization out of complacency by convincing a critical mass of individuals that the change is worth the inevitable ensuing costs. Recruit future knowledge champions.
Help sponsors and leaders to fulfill their role from the very beginning until the change has been established. Make a personal appeal and support the users to become champions and to help others. Focus on converting the strongest dissenters.
Yes, managing resistance of future users can be challenging, as we have seen there can be many reasons for resistance. But think about it – if you didn’t have resistance to change, then you’d have ‘groupthink’. You’d also have a less engaged and committed workforce, who may be simply complying with your wishes or worse still, actively subverting the change effort.
All these tips support a new, more collaborative way of working, which focuses less on documents and more on the people and communication needed to be successful. Change management isn’t about managing documents, it’s about keeping your team in sync on the goals of a project and executing on building what’s right.
Do you need to adopt information management technology and help people transition through the change? OpenText™ Learning Services can advise how to get the most from a change management program.
Samuel Peuker is a Senior Manager within Learning Services, certified as a Prosci® Change Practitioner and a Business Analyst in several OpenText Products such as Content Server and Extended ECM. He is passionate in helping to drive OpenText solution adoption where the user-side of change is the most important aspect. Visit him on LinkedIn