Handling Peoplesí Reactions & Motivations
In most changes this is the most difficult area, mainly because changes are often designed by people remote from the front-line where most people and the impact are located.
Clearly the crucial aspect is whether the nature of the change is such that it is likely to be heavily resisted, or whether people can support it. Some issues can be handled on an organisation-wide basis, others can only be handled on an individual basis.
Typically, there are five tactics which can help:
1. Get People Dissatisfied with the Current State
Get them to recognise that all is not well with the way things are. One approach is to organise people (working parties, project groups) to carry out a diagnosis of the Current State (e.g. customer satisfaction) - show that the Current State is not that great. Another is to use education, presenting people with facts about the Current State and what is likely to happen if no changes occur - (we go bankrupt tomorrow).
2. Get People to Participate
Participation in change does work. Not only is the change better (better decisions) but it improves motivation and communication. Particularly fruitful in planning and implementing the change. People can be involved either directly or indirectly (via representatives). Very useful for feeding the grapevine.
3. Reward and Recognize Co-operators
Sometimes, the existing reward system punishes people for supporting the change (has this happened to you?) Watch this and try to compensate either through the formal system or by informal rewards such as recognition, praise, etc.
4. Organise to Help People in Discomfort
Some people will come to terms with the change quickly, others (perhaps more seriously affected) will have severe discomfort, upset and stress. They will be going through the stages of the Loss Model. This needs to be handled on two levels.
- Continuous organisation-wide communications. Anything that emphasizes the change as real and inevitable, helps to move people through the stages. Similarly, feeding the rumour grapevine' through participation helps.
- At a personal level. In most cases people will turn to their immediate supervisors or colleagues for help. Thus, good continuous briefing of the line hierarchy is essential, possibly supported by training in change/counselling skills and the support of a welfare/personnel function.
5. Create a Positive Group Dynamics
It is not only with teenagers that `peer group' pressure is so strong. In organisations too, the group dynamics can work for or against. Try to generate this in support of the change.
Change specific arrangement such as `Help Desks' have also proved invaluable. The key step is to recognise that such problems exist, that they damage both the person and the organisation; and then to organise mechanisms to suit.