People Don’t Hate Change – They Hate You Trying to Change Them

Paul Hebert Driving Productivity, Engagement and Satisfaction, Innovation, Paul Hebert

Change2 There is a post on the Manage Smarter website this week that states that 1/3rd of all employees cannot adapt to change at work.  That caught my attention.  33% can’t change.  But dig deeper.  Read further into the description of the study.  The study took findings from a survey of 100 senior human resource professionals across North America. The survey asked: Is your workforce able to adapt to change and increase their effectiveness on the job? The results were:

• 31 percent—No, employee engagement and productivity are a major risk
• 43 percent—Somewhat, our workforce gets the job done, but morale suffers
• 26 percent—Yes, our workforce is very agile and responds to new challenges

Do you see the flaw in the findings and the reality of it?  The Senior managers SAY their workforce can’t adapt to change.  The survey didn’t ask those that would have to change – it asked the HR manager if they THOUGHT their employees could change.

Let Them Own The Change

Here’s the reality of it.  People don’t mind change – they just hate being forced to change.  If positioned correctly – and the employee is involved in the change – it is much less difficult to drive change.  But normally what happens is decisions are made in mahogany-paneled boardrooms and passed down to the masses.  “Do this and things will get better.”  Too often the employees already know what change is required.  They do the job every day.  They know the flaws in the system.  They know all about the pointless and inefficient processes they are forced to live with each day.  Just ask them.

Seriously, just ask them.  Please ask them.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know more than them.  You don’t.  You may have a bit more information on the direction the company needs to head, since you sit in the meetings where these things are discussed.  Why not tell your employees – “We need to get from here – to here.”  Then ask them – “What’s the best way to do that?”  You may just be surprised that they can come up with 100’s of different ideas.  All of which they will jump to implement.

A huge driver of employee engagement is a psychological principle called “locus of control” – the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them.  Increasing your employees’ belief (and reality) that they have control over the outcomes will increase their desire to make changes and increase their engagement with the change.

Don’t take HR’s word for it… Your people aren’t afraid of change – they’re afraid of you trying to change them!