Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. The degree of resistance to change is determined by whether they perceive the change as good or bad, and how severe they expect the impact of the change to be. Management needs to understand what employees are concerned about by addressing the emotional impact of the proposed change. Change is fundamentally about feelings; companies that want their workers to contribute at a high level have to accept that emotions are essential to the new management style.
Employees want to know what the change will be and when it will happen, but they also want to know why. Why is it happening? Why can’t things stay the way they have always been? Why is it happening to me? It is also important that employees understand what is not changing. Not only does this allows for one less thing to stress about, it also provides something to hold on to as they face the uncertainty of change.
From the perspective of leaders who have been working on the change initiative for months, the message is already stale. But what matters is the point of view of everyone else in the organization. Have they heard the message? Do they believe it? Do they know what it means? Have they interpreted it for themselves, and have they internalized it?
It is important for leaders to define the change and the reasons why in as much detail and as early as possible. They must focus on opening and maintaining clear and consistent channels of communication so employees understand what is coming and what it means to them. They will appreciate you for it and will be more productive both before and after the change. What managers say—or don’t say—delivers a strong message. Create a transition team that is responsible for driving change and provide regular updates as changes develop and become clearer.