Skip to content

How to turn employee resistance to change into support


Resistance is the eternal companion of any change. Ekaterina Genkina, an international change management expert, explains how you can redirect this energy to support them.

Peace is changing rapidly, and in order to strengthen their positions in the conditions of technological development and high competition, companies need to continuously transform. In the context of the pandemic, the speed of change has increased dramatically, transformations have become forced and have affected everyone.

How to effectively manage the process of change, overcome employee resistance to innovation and create a cohesive team of like-minded people to achieve business goals? These questions are answered by an approach called “change management”.

How to meet resistance When introducing changes, it is not enough to work out the methodological and technical aspects of the solution. It is important to ensure the acceptance of these changes in the team and the actual transition to work in a new way. Employee resistance to innovation is a signal to the employer that people need to be supported during the transition period. When a company helps employees adapt to new conditions, they understand the new role faster and better, perform work more efficiently, and the business benefits from the transformation faster.

Companies are increasingly hiring change managers to drive change. Their tasks include:

  • formation of a unified vision of change at the level of top management;
  • involvement and timely informing stakeholders about the changes;
  • providing new knowledge and skills to employees and future users affected by these changes.

The results of an international study by Prosci show that 40% of the surveyed companies already have divisions in their structure that deal with change management. The leaders are dynamic industries: retail (63%), banking sector (57%). In them, the speed of change directly affects the consumer. 32% of companies include change management specialists in the project office, 20% introduce the necessary experts into departments that deal with strategy, transformation, HR. For example, in international consulting companies, one of the risk management measures is to include a change management team in the transformation project.

10% of companies in the world, according to a survey by Prosci, have a Chief Change Officer (CCO) in their top management. They are responsible both for managing organizational risks during the period of transformation, and for introducing a unified approach to change management, expert project support at all levels, and shaping the mindset of employees necessary to improve the company.

How does a manager get started with change management?

The first step in launching any initiative is to involve key stakeholders.

Get project support from senior management first. Develop together a common vision of change, determine the benefits that the company will receive. A team of like-minded people among the top management will make it possible to effectively implement plans by preparing employees at all levels.

There is a misleading belief that leaders already know everything. On the contrary: the higher the position, the stronger the need for continuous development and continuous learning. Therefore, in a period of transformation, training should begin with leaders.

So, in one national holding, with the start of a large transformation program, the chairman of the board was the first to change. He began to study the best world practices on the topic, participate in reference visits, international forums and spend time communicating with experts and colleagues who have gone through a transformation. By triggering change within himself, he was able to bring about changes at the next levels of the company.

The driving force behind change is primarily the leadership role model. The success of the plan depends on the extent to which managers are involved in the transformation process, whether they are ready to invest time in the implementation of the project, including in working with people. When initiating changes that will affect employees, it is also important for the manager to understand: from this moment on, he takes on the role of “sponsor” of changes, which means he must have an action plan for working with people.

Continuation of the article on RBC:

Publication date: September 11, 2020

Author: Ekaterina Genkina