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One of the most confusing and recalcitrant problems facing HR managers is employee resistance to change. This resistance to change can take many forms: reduced production, increased resignations and transfer requests, chronic bickering, sullen hostility, wildcat strikes, and, of course, the articulation of multiple reasons why the change won't work. Also, even the smallest forms of this resistance to change can be troublesome.

Why is there resistance to change in companies?

Resistance to change is explained by the threat it represents to the established order. Change is rarely easy to accept, especially within companies. As people settle into their jobs, routines and roles, it becomes difficult to introduce new approaches if they do not emerge from the employees themselves. Solutions can be found collectively to address change in several stages.

What are the forms of change to be accompanied?

These changes may be political, involving a change in the way people work. It may be a new aspect of the role or the use of new business software. And even if it's something innocuous, like switching to a new coffee maker in the break room, any change can be difficult to implement in an environment that involves different personalities and levels of expertise.

The problem arises when change, or even the fear of change, dampens productivity and lowers morale. Whatever the source of this type of fear, it needs to be addressed quickly, before it affects other employees and departments, causing a domino effect that will prevent the adoption of anything new.

The role of human resources

Human resources departments are always at the heart of these new policies and changes in the organization. As such, HR professionals have a crucial role to play in helping managers and employees overcome their fears so that they can understand and accept change. HR and HRDs must be able to counter the reluctance to change of their employees and be able to detect it whenever it arises.

And this happens very often, since changes have to take place continuously in the company. This is especially true of the "small" changes that occur all the time - in work methods, in routine office procedures, in the location of a printer or desk, in staff assignments, in job titles, and so on. None of these changes make the headlines, but in total, they account for a large portion of our increased productivity. These are not the dramatic, one-of-a-kind technology revolutions that lead to mass layoffs or the obsolescence of traditional skills , but they are essential to business progress.

4 tips to lower the resistance to change curve

Do companies and HR departments still face the daunting task of "forcing" change down the throats of the resistant? Absolutely not. People don't resist technical change per se and that most resistance that occurs is unnecessary. Here are four tips for dealing with resistance to change:

1. An increasingly popular solution to dealing with resistance to change is to involve people to "participate" in the change. Beware, however: in practice, "participation" as a device can lead to problems and frustrations. If you propose this method, you must ensure that everyone has a say and that their opinions are heard.

2. The key to the problem is to understand the true nature of resistance to change. In fact, what employees resist is usually not technical change, but social change. The social change involved in technical change needs to be emphasized.

3. Human resources management can take concrete steps to deal constructively with these staff attitudes. These steps include emphasizing new performance standards and encouraging them to think differently. Signs of resistance to change can also serve as a practical warning signal to guide and program future and technological changes.

4. Senior managers can also make their own efforts more effective in staff meetings and operational groups where change is discussed. They can do this by shifting their attention from the facts about schedules, technical details, tasks, etc., to what the discussion of these items indicates about developing receptivity and resistance to change.

Resistance to change: conclusion

Finally, consider offering flexible changes. For example, if you want to change the arrival times of your employees, suggest that they arrive between 9 and 9:30 a.m. (instead of 10 a.m.). This way, they will feel that they have a choice and will tend to accept the change. If you impose a change that is too strict, most employees will become resistant and will criticize your methods. Finally, talk to your employees and evaluate the effectiveness of the changes you implement. That way, you will go far!

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