7 small steps to manage resistance

In the context of Enterprise Social, change resistance is the reluctance to adapt to a new idea, process or technology. It can occur at any level in the organisation and is often hugely frustrating for those change agents who are looking to implement these changes in the organisation with a vision of improving the existing processes or culture. 

Why Does Change Resistance Occur? 

  • There's a lack of understanding of the big picture
  • A lack of understanding of how the change benefits the individual personally
  • There is a perception that no one will use it
  • Someone in the organisation has had a negative experience
  • Lack of control / Uncertainty
  • Routines / habits become automatic and new process aren't natural


How to recognise the resisters? 

  • The Know-it-alls: These are the types who are part of the furniture and have been around the block. They've seen 100's of change initiatives, most of all, failed change initiatives. These are a tricky stakeholder group as more often than not they are key influencers and have the power to make things happen. Also known as, the been there, done that. 
  • The Worrier / Sceptic: "We can't control the network, what happens if people say something bad", to be honest, they're probably saying it behind your back anyway. At least on an Enterprise Social Network you're able to justify your decisions and clearly communicate your messages and have an open dialogue to justify your answer. You're more likely to suffer rumours or chinese whispers in one to one, or a closed dialogue. 


What to do to overcome the resisters? 


1. Have a clear vision, with use cases and an idea of what success looks like
I've stated in previous blog's why having a clear vision is essential and for Enterprise Social there is no exception. Having a Vision and clearly articulating that vision is essential to help people sense make of technology and clarify it's purpose. 


2. Address their personal fears and concerns head on
Understand what their personal concerns are. What are the issues affecting the initial adoption or their cooperation. Empathising and having an insight to their concerns will help you work out the value add for them personally (i.e. What's in it for me).  


3. Communicate and training
Communication is an essential part of a change management strategy and there would be no issue with over communication so long as it's not considered as spam... Another area of a successful change programme is training and that doesn't necessarily mean training on the features and focussing on the technology, but looking at training a new mind set. 


4. Work with your resisters 
If we consider the resisters, or the know-it-all's we understand that they're an important stakeholder group or us as they're often in a seat at the top table, understand the workings of the organisation and have a higher degrees of influence. Therefore bring them on at the early stages of the design of the change programme, and make them feel that they are shaping the way forward. 


5. Work with your Green Dots and flex your circles of influence
As much as it is important to bring your resisters on side, there is no point in banging your head against a brick wall. There is another way! Go to where the energy is within the organisation, where the early adopters are and where there is appetite for social. At Yammer we call these type of stakeholders 'green dots'. Help and enable those who want to be helped and make sure that they are realising value quickly. Invest your time here. 


6. Share Success even the small wins
So we're now working with the Green Dots. Share back the success stories as much as possible to the rest of the organisation to show what the departments business challenge was, what the outcomes was and how Enterprise Social enabled this outcome. Make sure that the heroes are the visionaries or those Green Dots that were willing to take a risk or adopt the change early. 


7. Enable a feedback loop and act on it. 
Work with your stakeholders, listen to them and where possible implement their feedback. Even if you're as sceptical as the resisters above, try it and cooperate. If these suggestions don't work, then fine, but at least we've tried and more importantly, we learn. 

Steve CromptonComment