How To Take An Employee-Centric Approach To Change Management

In today’s increasingly dynamic and ever-changing market, organizational change isn’t only to be expected; it’s essential. However, change isn’t always easy, and it’s important to understand how different employees will respond in order to implement and manage change effectively.

Communication is essential to the success of any change management initiative. But communication can’t be one-size-fits-all; it must be tailored to the employees on the other end of the message, and it must address their specific fears and reasons for resistance.

To that end, there are typically four different employee types in every organization, and each one will respond differently.

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The Risk-Averse Employee: Change Is Scary

Risk-averse employees prefer routine and consistency. They fear the unknown and perceive change as a loss of security. And while organizational change does not always necessitate job elimination, in a risk-averse employee’s mind, change is synonymous with organizational downsizing.

In order to identify risk-averse employees, listen for questions such as “Will this new change eliminate any jobs within the organization?” and “What is my role in the new process?” Be forthright in your response to these employees.

The Skeptical Employee: Change Is Inconvenient And Will Only Make Things Worse

Skeptical employees prefer hard facts and sound evidence to support decisions and drive desired results. A common cause of their resistance to change is perceived loss of freedom. For those skeptical employees in procurement roles, they may fear supply chain disruption.

Skeptical employees will express doubt about the logic of the strategy and ask for proof that the change will result in improvements. Be sure to allay those doubts and provide the evidence necessary.

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The Traditionalist Employee: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Traditionalist employees prefer to operate with the way things have always been done, partially out of habit, and partially because they do not want to undermine their roles, stature and contributions to the organization.   

Traditionalist employees respond to change with stubbornness and a “don’t fix what isn’t broken” attitude. Try to enlighten the traditionalist as to how the change benefits the organization as a whole; not just how it impacts them.

The Progressive Employee: Change Is Necessary

Progressive employees prefer regularly reassessing strategies to determine whether they are achieving the desired impact. Most often, progressive employees do not resist change because it is not perceived as negatively affecting operational performance, nor do they feel their role is threatened.

It’s important to leverage progressive employees as champions of change in order to get others to buy in.  

Once you fully grasp these employee perspectives, communicating changes in your organization will become easier, making your change management more effective. 

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