Employees that resist change can actually put a halt to your business growth

You’re running your small business and feel pretty damn confident that you are doing a great job.  Sales are up and you have brought on new employees to manage the volume.  Everything seems fine until one day there is a situation. Not the kind we want to have in our business, but the kind that makes you say, “uh oh” and loose sleep at night.  Its the kind that business coaches call a system failure.  Someone or some thing (or both) have messed up, and it is going to cost the company (well, really you) time, money, or reputation.  Ouch!  Could this have been prevented?  You bet, just read on:

The roll of a leader as the agent of change

These types of growth pains can easily be prevented by understanding human nature.  Most people will avoid change until the discomfort of dealing with the change is less than the discomfort of staying with the status quo.  Managing your employees discomfort is an important leadership tool to consider in transforming your organization or small business.   In fact, the ability to use your employees’ discomfort as a motivation tool will help you bring out the best in them and ultimately, it will directly relate to how well you are viewed as a leader.   But here is the caveat – this is not the type of motivational discomfort that will manipulate and degrade an individual. Rather, it’s the type of leadership that influences someone to bring out the best in themselves for the betterment of the organization.

Embracing change

The first thing that we need to reiterate is that as a leader and/or small business owner, you need to look at your employees as being fundamentally good and willing to change.  Even though some of their actions seem to be going against the grain of the change that is required, most people really want to do a good job and be part of a team that is succeeding.  So… knowing that, how do we motivate them to change?

Step 1

Assessment – Take a look at how tasks are being done.  If you ask an employee to do something and then it doesn’t happen, or if it’s completed in a way that you didn’t anticipate or desire, then you will need to ask yourself some questions: 

Do they know what to do?

Do they know how to do it?

Do they have all the necessary resources to make it happen? 

How do they relate to others?

Can they get others motivated to assist in a project willingly?

By looking at these clues you can find out and assess if they are in fact overwhelmed, confused, or lacking personal or team leadership skills.  You will also find out if they are addicted to people pleasing.  Yes, we said ADDICTED.  If the only time they say, “no” is to say, “no problem” to every request that comes across their desk, then there is a problem waiting to blow up before your eyes – and that can put your business at risk.

Step 2

Create awareness to the challenge – Once you have effectively assessed the situation, you will have the background information you will need to begin the change process.  Our first step is to get the employee to see that change is needed.  You may be thinking to yourself that you have already told them a dozen times that they need to change, however, as a leader you need to watch an individual’s behavior to see what they actually are believing and hearing.  As a leader, if you ask someone to make a change and they continue to keep doing what they were doing before, they didn’t really hear you – accept that; actions speak louder than words.

Step 3

Create a learning experience in your business – It’s time to create a learning experience in your small business to bring this issue to the place where you can work with it.  Look for a opportunity and get a project that will be part of the change you are looking for.  Ask your team member to work on this project, set proper expectations, and then set an accountability date for them to get back to you with an update or confirmation of completion.  Let the time pass without checking back with them and resist asking them about their progress. In fact, resist any follow up that is initiated by you as the leader.  Wait for the accountability date to come and go.  If the employee still hasn’t initiated contact with regards to the specific project, then it is time to set up a meeting.

Step 4

Conduct a powerful transformation meeting – In this meeting you will review what you had asked them to do and state that they never got back to you saying it was done.  Now stop to listen to how they respond:

Do they place blame on someone else? 

Do they brush it off as not important? 

Are they telling you they are overwhelmed? 

The way in which they respond is a good clue to what type of training they will need later.  Regardless of what explanation they give, the bottom line is that there is no excuse for the lack of communication that occurred. You will have to let them know that it is unacceptable and that in the long term, this type of action costs the company.  The main objective that you want to have them understand is that they need to change the way they are doing things.

Once you have their attention, you can now train and educate them to make the changes that will benefit the company overall. 

Employee resistance to change is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to cause your business trouble.  Learning to use the leadership skills that help people grow and change will be one of your biggest assets and it will help you grow your company to the next level of accomplishment.

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