Why your employees hate change

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Employees hate change. It’s a frustrating fact that leaves many HR departments struggling to implement effective new policies – but is it actually a true?

“I genuinely don’t believe that everybody hates change – I think they hate change when they feel they’ve got no control over it or have got no understanding of it,” says Diane Edwards, general manager of people, systems and technology at the Ports of Auckland.

“I think that if everyone really hated change we wouldn’t have things like fashion and we would still be living in caves,” she continued. “People do adapt and move on – what they resist is the fact that they’re not involved in the change, they’re not consulted about changes, or maybe they don’t see the value in the change.”

Edwards, who’s been with Ports of Auckland since 2012, says employees are far more likely to buy into change if they understand why it’s necessary and feel their opinion has been heard – something which is all too often overlooked by employers.

“Often, a mistake that organisations make is that they communicate a change once to their people and then wonder why that message is not received very well,” she told HRM.

“They forget that the senior team or the managers who are involved in bringing about that change in the first place have probably been talking about it for months or maybe even years,” she continued.

“They’ve been through all the objections, they’ve thought about why they want to do this, what they want to do, they’ve gone through all the arguments in their head of what the options could have been, they’ve made their decision – and that may have been done over a period of many, many months – then suddenly they expect to be able to give 10 minutes to people telling them what’s going to change and they go; ‘How come they can’t understand it?’”

Instead, Edwards says organisations have to keep employees fully involved from the outset.

“Sometimes, we think the comms department can stick out a message or HR can stick out a message and say what’s happening but in fact the message needs to be heard multiple times and preferably from multiple sources because the more that you talk about a change, the more that it becomes normal,” she told HRM.

“I think most organisations start the conversation far too late,” she continued. “If you’ve been talking about the change for the past three months, six months, nine months, and they’ve heard it from a number of sources, it actually becomes normalised in peoples’ psyches and it’s something that they’ve got so used to that they’re more likely to get to the point where they go; ’Just get on with it, we’ve heard about it, just give to us.’”
 
Diane Edwards will be discussing the difficulties of change at the upcoming HRM Leaders Forum – here, she will explore how organisations can harness existing practices to mitigate resistance and align employees to a constantly adapting environment.

To find out more about the upcoming event, or to secure advance tickets, click here.

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