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Why Do Employees Resist Change?

Posted on 3.29.2016

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."

That's a quote from Socrates - quite a smart and thoughtful fellow, right?

Change is imminent - everything around us is in a constant state of flux; relationships, bank accounts, response rates to digital marketing campaigns. Everything changes.

So why is it that we often fight change so vehemently? Who knows - but we do. We're either comfortable with the status quo or simply don't care - neither of which will do if our enterprise is truly focused on moving forward, being better and accelerating success.

So how can it all be turned around? For many, it will simply come down to motivation (and fostering it accordingly within your business).

The benefits of having "highly engaged" employees to an enterprise is immense - but why does it have to be so hard to get your workers motivated? Isn't it enough that they get a paycheck every week? Uh, no. People want and need to feel inspired and it is the responsibility of those in charge to manage change and the unknowns that result.

Some employees of course just won't or don't have it in them; they just aren't a good fit for your enterprise. In this case, realize it's not entirely the hiring manager's fault - a gut feeling gone wrong in the recruitment or interview process, a lucky test taker, whatever; if the employee just isn't cutting it, it's time to cut your losses and let them go.

Before taking this step (and incurring the often high costs of recruiting and hiring) managers have a responsibility to motivate their under-performers. That's not easy to do of course, but there are some ways you can get them back on track and inspired once more.

For example, if a lack of motivation is noticed, it's important to address the problem quickly, identify the cause of the under-performance, start a dialog, coach the employee and lay out a formal plan, monitor their progress, and then and only then, take action if it's needed. It's only fair you give them a fighting chance, right?

There are a few other ways to motivate employees. While Employee Stock Ownership programs do work in certain scenarios, focusing on relationships and the approach taken to specific tasks is often all that's needed.

Set impossible deadlines: If the bar is set low, so should your expectations. There's nothing that gets employees motivated than a deadline.

Reassign to a new role: Another way to motivate is to change their role giving them greater responsibility or an entirely new focus. It doesn't need to be a new job per say, but rather a new way to look at the job.

Engage personally: One of the easiest management practices to engage in is to simply manage by walking around. You'd be surprise how quickly and happily engaged in their work when the boss is walking past. Just by getting people back at their desk and on the phone or in front of their monitor, amazing things can happen. They, and you, have to be present to be motivated and make change.

Forced resting: Most bosses will roll their eyes at this suggestion, but it's a really important one. Workers that are tired/exhausted (say, for example, those operating on just a few hours of sleep) are less creative, less focused and more irritable and thus resistant to change. Many organizations force their employees to take time off every few months.

Change is inevitable and companies must embrace this reality. By inspiring and motivating employees, it could prove easier than you think or expect and set your enterprise on a course for greater success.

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