To successfully make changes in your workplace, you’ll need to have everyone on board. But don’t try to get them all to accept change at once. Not everyone responds to change similarly; some employees will not react well to it initially.
According to Hans Finzel’s Change is Like a Slinky Paperback (2004,) you must anticipate your allies and adversaries. Determine which of these three groups each of your employees belongs to and adapt.
- The Innovators and Early Adopters. Some people love the challenge of change for its excitement and the opportunity to spearhead change. These employees can research the topic, develop prototypes, and act as “change ambassadors” to motivate people further down the hierarchy.
- The Careful Majority. Most employees will support change once they’re reasonably confident it’ll succeed. Demonstrate to skeptics what the change will represent and how it will benefit them and the company. Acknowledge concerns—both the spoken and unspoken—and the discomfort of being in unfamiliar territory while focusing on what’s within their control. Eventually, the majority will follow the early adopters’ lead.
- The Holdouts. A few employees may resist—and even sabotage—change because they feel uncomfortable about it, don’t believe in it, or can’t see any benefits in it for themselves. If their contentions are worth the time and energy to debate and discuss, make a fair effort to gain alignment on perspective and resolution on position, but be firm with your strategic direction. Get key organizational leaders to give these dissenters reasons and opportunities to get on board, but let them know the price if they don’t accept change.
Idea for Impact: The best managers understand that each employee has different skills, sentiments, wants and needs—and work to put each employee in a position to feel valued and contribute.