Change can be uncomfortable for your team. It is often because it brings uncertainty and triggers fear of the unknown. Teammates may need to be reassured about how the change will impact their job responsibilities, work routines, relationships with colleagues, reporting, and overall job security. If employees are left uncertain, this can lead to anxiety and, worse, resistance. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the “feels” your teammates may be undergoing while you are knee-deep into a digitization project.
1. Employees feel like they have lost their mastery: Staff develop a sense of competence when they become proficient in their current tasks and processes. Introducing this new system AND software can disrupt this familiarity and make employees feel incompetent or unsure of their abilities. This loss of competence can trigger fear and resistance.
2. Fear of failure: Employees may worry about their ability to adapt to the changes successfully. They may fear making mistakes, being unable to meet performance expectations, or being reassigned or fired if they can't keep up with the new technology or processes. Technology implementations can be disruptive. This fear of failure can hinder their acceptance of change.
3. Disruption of (pre-existing) routines: Humans are creatures of habit, and changes can disrupt established practices and patterns. Employees may feel comfortable with their current workflows, tools, and systems. Introducing something new requires them to adjust their habits and learn new ways of doing things, which can be unsettling and met with resistance or outright refusal.
4. Loss of control: Change often involves relinquishing a certain level of control over one's work environment or processes. Change also requires developing new ways of working with other staff. Employees may feel that the changes threaten their autonomy and decision-making power. This loss of control can lead to resistance, fear of the unknown, or outright refusal.
5. Past negative experiences: If employees have had negative experiences with previous changes in the workplace, such as unsuccessful implementations of new systems, they may have developed a fear or skepticism toward future changes. Negative past experiences can make employees resistant and apprehensive about new initiatives.
6. Lack of information and communication: Insufficient communication about the reasons behind the change, the expected outcomes, and the implementation plan can contribute to employee fear. Did you know that seventy-five percent of project management is communications? When employees feel left in the dark or are uncertain about the purpose and impact of the change, it can breed resistance and anxiety. Also, consider sharing how the project maps to the goals and objectives of the organization.
7. Happy with the status quo: Some employees may prefer being comfortable with things. They may resist change because it challenges their preferences or may require them to step outside their comfort zones. This discomfort can be a significant factor in resistance.
Organizations must consider and address these fears and concerns when implementing digitization efforts. Plentiful, open, and transparent communication, providing support and training, and involving employees in the decision-making process can help alleviate these fears and increase acceptance of change in the workplace. Remember this is a critical component to the success of your overall project.