The challenge of overcoming employee resistance is a hurdle both small and large business owners face.As your business grows, it has to adapt to changing circumstances. Trends and tastes change, and new challenges emerge; and it’s the most flexible, adaptive businesses that survive. This evolutionary process can be painful – especially when your employees are resistant to change.
From my experience, balancing the needs of the business, and the desires of its employees, is the most common problem facing small business owners and their managers. Implementing structural change in a business has become a dreaded necessity – but it needn’t be.
Here are 8 surefire strategies to overcoming employee resistance; the most effective, efficient and productive ways to create successful change in your business.
#1. Check your attitude.
Addressing your own attitude might sound contrarian, when it’s clearly the employees who have a stubborn attitude – but as a business owner or manager, you have to first put on the mindset that the “buck stops here”.
There’s no need to be a “barker”or a “dictator”if it doesn’t suit your personality – but if employees are resisting change, their lack of cooperation is probably because you’re letting people walk all over you. Check your attitude:
Are you catering to their needs?
Are you caving in to their resistances?
Are you managing conflict, or are you avoiding conflict?
#2. Commit to being the leader.
If people aren’t listening to you, they’re not following you. People follow leaders.
Eleanore Roosevelt so famously said, “If you have to tell people you’re a lady; you’re not a lady.”The same applies to management. If you have to tell your people to listen to you, you’re not a leader — or at least, you’re not acting like a leader.
Overcoming employee resistance starts with committing to be a strong leader. I often discover that managers and business owners who struggle with overcoming employee resistance hold misconceptions of what a leader is. A leader is not a dictator. A leader is not barker. A leader does not need to strong arm or threaten their people to do what you need them to do.
Reframe your definition of a leader as being more of a coach. If you were the new Head Coach of a football team and you needed to develop a group of underdogs into a championship level team, ask yourself:
Have you cast an exciting, clear vision of where your company (team) is going?
Are you raising the bar on their effort, performance and work ethic?
Are you holding each team player accountable to follow through – or are you letting them slack?
#3. Have clear player POSITIONS.
One of the biggest hindrances to overcoming employee resistance to change is that employees were never given clear expectations to begin with.
What exactly was each person hired for?
What position are they playing on your team?
If they’re hired to play wide receiver, then clearly define the role of a wide receiver. Don’t confuse and frustrate your players by having them play linebacker, quarterback, defense and wide receiver all in the same game.
People’s reactions are always based on their expectations. If you’re constantly throwing new changes to their job function it’s understandable that employees would grow increasingly frustrated. After all, they’re trying to hit a constantly moving target.
Employees end up thinking “Hey, this is not what I signed up for!”–and their motivation plummets.
In order to mitigate that:
#4. Have clear player EXPECTATIONS.
If you want to stop the reaction of resistance, start by setting clear player expectations.
Do you have a written job description for each player?
Is the language crystal clear in objective terms rather than subjective and open to interpretation?
Does it define performance that meets expectations, falls below expectations or exceeds expectations?
#5. Don’t “pass the buck”
If you don’t have written job descriptions, avoid the temptation to allow people to define their own roles or write their own job descriptions.
Having your employees write their own job description is only valuable as a barometer to assess their expectations of their role within the business; and how they align with your expectations.
I do not recommend taking this approach to let your players write their own player positions and expectations for you. That’s your job. These are decisions that should be made by you.
Ok, now that you’ve read this far, you’re ready to dive into
In Part 2, let me share three more tips and techniques for creating successful change in your business; and even explore how you can benefit from them in all areas of your life!
#6. Hold firm expectations.
Once you set your expectations, you need to hold firm to them.People can tell whether you’re firm or fake. They can smell that fear a mile away. Overcoming employee resistance to change will only continue to be a challenge if managers continue to waver on setting clear, firm expectations.
What are the non-negotiable expectations you have for each employee?
What is the language you use to communicate those expectations?
What is the tone you project? What does your non-verbal communication say?
#7. Build relationships.
Overcoming employee resistance to change doesn’t come from focusing on their behavior; but from focusing on your relationship.
Employee resistance occurs when there’s no respect.
There’s no respect because there is no trust.
There’s no trust because there’s no relationship.
There’s no relationship because there is no consistent one-on-one time.
Remember that: relationships are NOT built in groups. Relationships are built one-on-one
How often do you schedule one-on-one time with each of your direct reports?
Do you critique your employees more than you appreciate them?
#8. Find out their “WHAT”and their “WHY”.
As business owners and managers, we all want a team of players who are highly self-motivated. Self-motivated people are naturally self absorbed. But, in this case, being self absorbed is not a bad thing.
If you want your people to care about what you care about (growing the company), then you need to first care about what they care about.
Why? Because creating success is about creating a win-win situation for everyone.
When you’re struggling with overcoming employee resistance, remember:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
How much do you know about each employee?
Have you ever asked what motivates them?
Have you ever asked what their goals are, in both their professional and personal lives?
Have you ever asked why? What would achieving that goal allow them to do, be or have, that they don’t have right now?
Benefiting from these skills in all areas of your life
As a parent, I want to raise my three kids to be highly self-motivated people. Like most parents, I want my kids to dream big and reach their full potential.
Despite this, I started noticing that I was nagging my son, Thomas, to get out there and practice his soccer drills. I was annoyed that I was investing time and money into his soccer training, but he was RESISTING the advice of his coach.
I decided to apply these same strategies at home. When he was around 12 years old, I sat down with my son and asked him: ‘What’s your dream?’
His answer – to become a professional soccer player.
We talked about his why, and defined what would that allow him to achieve his desires in life. Then, all I had to do was show him what separates the extraordinary soccer players from the less extraordinary soccer players.
We defined what the extraordinary soccer players did to get there —(exceeding expectations)
We defined what lesser soccer players did —(meeting expectations)
We defined what failed soccer players did —(below expectations)
‘Thanks for believing in me’
My son Thomas will soon be turning 15, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t had to nag him since that conversation when he was 12. In fact, I truly admire how highly self-motivated he has become. The snow or rain does not stop him from running outside or practicing his shots on net. He is not only disciplined in his cross training routine at home, he’s also surprisingly disciplined in choosing what he eats as an athlete.
The best part as a parent was the day my son took me aside and said, “Mom, thanks for believing in me.” Wow! I can last on those 6 words for the next 6 years!
As a business owner or manager, it’s the same thing. When you have an employee who takes the time to say, “Thanks coach, for believing in me.” – that’s the kind of stuff that fuels your tank for many more years to come.
Not only do these strategies help you in overcoming employee resistance to change; they can benefit all areas of your life. Instituting these 8 starter strategies also nurtures fierce loyalty among your employees – creating motivated, productive players that will go over and beyond their call of duty.
QUESTION: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to overcoming employee resistance? Please share your comments in the box below. You can also download my handy cheat sheet on Creating High Performing Teams Here.
There’s nothing wrong with aiming high – but striving for perfection could be hindering your success, If you can relate to any of these 5 signs, you need to get out of your own way, and stop being a perfectionist:
Sign #1 – Success is black and white
A lot of perfectionists can be characterized by their black or white approach to success and failure. Instead of appreciating a spectrum of success, with some business ideas achieving moderate, or even mixed results, perfectionists will view everything they do as either a complete success, or a total failure. This can be severely hindering to a business, as it encourages an attitude of ‘all-or-nothing’ – with entrepreneurs unable to see the good in their ideas, and unable to achieve satisfaction in anything they do.
Tip to get out of your own way:
Remind yourself that even bad ideas can offer value; and a failure is one step closer to success.
Sign #2 – You won’t take risks
This tendency to view all failures as completely catastrophic encourages an attitude of risk-adverseness – a desire to avoid any and all risk. An element of risk is part-and-parcel of being an entrepreneur (‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’), and being a perfectionist can reduce the growth of your business, and your willingness to adopt new ideas.
I knew a small business owner, a friend of mine, that was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – to pitch their products to one of the market-leading giants of their industry. My friend was relatively successful, with a small but established customer base; and the perceived risk of scaling up their business was too much for them. They declined the offer, and missed out on the chance to sell their products internationally. Why? Because they didn’t want to risk failing – no matter how small the risk, or how big the reward.
Tip to get out of your own way:
Try and identify a spectrum of risk; ranging from small, harmless risks, to huge, life-altering ones. Make a conscious effort to take a small risk on a regular basis.
Sign #3 – You take criticism personally
Criticism is crucial to the development of a business, and the advice of our peers can provide some of the best insights into successful business development. Perfectionists have a tendency to take this criticism very personally – and they’re unable to separate business criticism from personal criticism. This happens because perfectionists invest themselves into their ideas, and take professional criticism as an attack upon their abilities. This can prevent businesses from making vital changes, and can severely limit growth.
Tip to get out of your own way:
Critique your own ideas, and try to identify an aspect of your business that could do with improving.
Sign #4 – You never reach your goals
Perfectionists are renowned for setting unreachable goals; and even rationalizing away their success when they do reach them. Perfection is rarely attainable, especially for real-world businesses and people. There are always limits and problems that arise from government legislation, employees and sheer logistics – and striving for the perfect business will prevent an entrepreneur from ever reaching their goal. Even successful entrepreneurs might never be satisfied – because they believe that their business could always be improved.
Tip to get out of your own way:
Analyze your ambitions – are they realistic? Could they ever be achieved? Set goals that are aspirational, but still founded in reality.
Sign #5 – You think unhappiness is the price of success
The end-result? Unhappiness. Most perfectionists believe unhappiness to be part-and-parcel of achieving success, and live unfulfilling lives because they think it’s vital to achieving their goals. In reality though, happiness should be a goal in its own right – and success at the expense of your own happiness isn’t really success at all.
Tip to get out of your own way:
Make happiness an ambition, and don’t strive for success at the expense of your own happiness.
QUESTION: What tips do you use to get out of your own way? How do you prevent yourself from being overly-perfectionist? Let me know in the comments!
Blogging doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. I’ve compiled 7 must-have tech tools and tips for making blogging easier. They tackle every aspect of blogging, from inspiration though to publication, and they could transform your blog writing instantly!
For many people, finding inspiration is the hardest aspect of blogging. Online resources, like whitepapers, eBooks and other blogs, are ideal for triggering a wave of inspiration – but they can be hard to keep track of. Instead of flitting between hundreds of bookmarks, Pocket is a browser plugin that compiles your resources into a handy dashboard. As well as saving your resources in one place, Pocket allows you to access websites without an internet connection – and it’s available for a host of mobile devices.
2. Dragon Dictation
We aren’t all super-fast typers, and putting virtual pen to virtual paper can be the most time-consuming aspect of writing a blog post. If you’re looking to get your ideas down without developing RSI, it’s worth trying Dragon Dictation. This market-leading dictation software package offers intuitive speech transcription, allowing you to sit-back, relax, and compose your next post without lifting a finger. Dragon Dictation is also available for iPhone and iPad – making it perfect for blog writing on the go.
If you’d prefer to stick to typing, the next of our tips for making blogging easier is perfect for you. OmmWriter aims to make writing an enjoyable and productive experience. It’s a text processor that combines gorgeous backgrounds and soothing audio tracks with keystroke sounds, and a wonderfully minimal interface. Perfect for clearing your mind, and focusing on the task at hand!
RescueTime allows you to monitor your online activity, and rate your own productivity. Specific websites and desktop applications can easily be assigned a ‘productivity value’, with beneficial activities like blog writing allocated a high-productivity value, and distracting activates like Youtube or social media assigned a lower value. Your daily productivity is then analyzed, and a score allocated. RescueTime allows you to track your productivity over days, weeks and months, and recognize the areas where you waste most time – making it one of the best tips for making blogging easier in the long-term.
5. Focus Booster
If you’re guilty of spending endless hours on blog posts without achieving any progress, the next of our tips for making blogging easier is ideal. Focus Booster structures your blog writing according to the Pomodero principle of productivity, allocating 25-minute intervals of writing, interspersed with 5-minute breaks. This handy app allows you to increase the efficiency of your writing, preventing you from wasting time when your productivity flags.
All the best blogging ideas start in coffee shops – and tips for making blogging easier are no exception. Want to improve the layout and design of your blog, but aren’t familiar with HTML and CSS? No worries! CoffeeCup allows you to edit virtually any visual aspect of your blog. If you’re looking to reinvent your site with a fresh new theme; convert your site to become fully-mobile responsive; or even add a ton of extra functionality to your blog, like contact forms and surveys, CoffeeCup has you covered.
Once you’ve written and published your posts, you need to make sure that they’re promoted across your social media networks at the optimal times. Instead of waiting by your PC day and night for the best times to post, try Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to automate your Shares, Tweets and Posts. It also comes with a range of extra functionality and tips to make blogging easier – from trending Hashtags to comprehensive blog traffic analysis.
QUESTION: Which tech tools do you use for easier blogging? Let me know in the comments!
Management books will tell you recognition, incentives, support and clear goals are essential to motivating employees. But a recent study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) says otherwise. (Read about it at HBR’s 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010.) Tracking daily activities, emotions and motivation levels of hundreds of workers, over several years, researchers found that good, ol’ fashioned – progress–not cash, not bonuses, not paid cruise vacations– is what motivates staff and keeps them engaged.
In the study, HBR asked participants to maintain and send daily email diaries. The analysis of nearly 12,000 entries combined with the writer’s own ratings of their moods and motivations showed a consistency that throws traditional management philosophy right out the window.
Here’s a typical scenario. In this case, an information systems professional was thrilled that she’d finally figured out a solution to an ongoing problem. Her daily diary entry stated, “I felt relieved and happy because this was a minor milestone for me”.
Across the board, the excitement of making progress–even baby steps–was cause for joy. As many as 76% of participants’ reported they felt happiest when they’d accomplished something.
As a business coach I can certainly vouch for that! I hear it all the time. In fact, I heard those exact words at a conference where I was the keynote speaker for a regional group of Law Firms. They unanimously felt unhappy with their productivity because there’s so much thrown at them everyday that they rarely feel as if they’ve completed and accomplished something.
Compare this response with the typical management philosophy that feeling supported or collaborating with colleagues is more important. The study showed 53% ranked their best days when collaboration occurred and only 25% ranked interpersonal support as happening on their best days. Even more surprising, only 19% ranked their “best days” as when they had work they considered important.
In a start up environment, progress is crucial to getting the project off the ground, to turning profitable and even to having a business or job a few months down the road. But more stable environments may not have that same ferocity of pace and sometimes may not seem to change all that much. A lawyer’s office may have a consistent tone from the perspective of some staff, new clients come in, cases are handled, cases are closed. But you can still help keep your staff’s motivation high by ensuring they have the support they need when learning a new skill.
When your employees encounter setbacks–and they will, it’s an inevitable part of life–find out what the obstacle is and how you or someone else can help them.
What work concerns do your employees struggle with? Ask them. Here’s an innovative approach:
Ask your staff “what are the challenges that affect your productivity and performance? … and how can I better support you to circumvent those challenges?”
At one time the response from support staff at a younger 3M replied that clutter, filing and emails were a constant challenge for the people to stay on top of their performance goals. So, what did 3M do? They instituted a company wide practice to dedicate every Friday morning for all company employees to devote to filing, decluttering and cleaning out email inboxes. Wow! So, what can we all learn from the example of 3M?
1. They asked 2. They listened 3. They demonstrated support
Some of the top challenges I hear about in both my small business and in my large corporate clients is technology — especially understanding how to use specific software programs.
There are many ways to motivating your employees. Focus on making them feel they’re making progress. According to the HBR study, your job as their boss is to offer solutions to setbacks. The other part of your job is to be decisive when you set goals or make a decision and stick to them. Being indecisive frustrates employees.
Often, a fresh, outside perspective can do wonders for diagnosing the reason for low employee engagement and offering the road map for motivating your employees. If you are struggling with developing high performing leaders in your organization, I invite you to connect with me to discuss how I can help you. Reach me at (215) 292-4947 EST.
QUESTION: What has worked the best for you in motivating your employees? Please share your comments below.
About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development. Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947.