Have you ever heard the quote, "Change is the only constant?" That's almost an understatement in the modern world of work.
I recently got asked the question, "When implementing a change how do you avoid conflict or defense?" The short answer is, "You don't!"
So, what DO you do?
The human brain evolved to view change as a threat, therefore the fight, flight or freeze instinct kicks in when we experience change. Changes at work can be especially threatening since our income is how we put food on the table (aka a means of survival).
Here are 4 ways to squash change naysayers.
Creating Certainty - The brain loves to predict what's to come and feel at ease about the next step. Change is a direct threat to this love of certainty. Creating certainty is providing as many details as you can to reassure someone of how the change will unfold. Even telling someone, "I don't know exactly what's going to happen next, but I will let you know when I find out" puts the brain at ease. What steps and details can you share? It's best to do this proactively instead of reactively; however, sharing any amount of certainty is better than not saying anything at all.
Starting with 'WHY' - What's the reason for the change and what's the end goal? Sharing this upfront helps people to wrap their heads around the need for the change and get on board with it. Is something you're doing now NOT working? Is there a new system coming that will make their lives easier? Will the change save time, money or energy? Think through and SHARE the reason for the change as quickly and often as possible.
Acknowledge their emotion - Change is emotional (see the diagram below for details!). Some people are more emotional than others and feel a heightened sense of threat because as their emotions take over, they make a B-line to fight, flight or freeze mode. Taking the time to ask, "What emotions are coming up for you around this?" will go a long way. For many of you (especially the not-as-emotional ones), this will feel uncomfortable because you don't like to talk about emotions. I get it; however, it's well worth it because just allowing someone to label an emotion calms their limbic brain (home of fight, flight or freeze), clears their head and allows for less resistance.
Involve them in the transition - At work especially, it feels like change just happens to us and we're not asked to be involved - a re-org happens, we get a new boss or team member, a new system is implemented. Instead, proactively involve people in the change. Identify change ambassadors to attend meetings, share ideas and help the rest of the team get on board. On the back end of the change, ask team members how you could do things differently or better along the way. Involving people in the change instead of dragging them along as you go, will go a long way in keeping them engaged.
How can you take a change you're currently going through more acceptable to the naysayers around you?
I help people be true to their inner calling and lead the life they love.