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Helping Others Move Past Obstacles to Change

Before you try to move forward!

Obstacles to change are common and occur at both the organizational and individual level. In this article, we’ll discuss obstacles at the individual level because without support and commitment from employees, it is not possible to make change “stick.”

Obstacles to change include:

  • Fear of the impact of the change on the individual employee and their role and responsibilities within the organization
  • Fear of losing control over what they do and how they do it
  • Insufficient information about the change and why it is happening
  • Fear that the change will impact the employee financially, or his/her benefits
  • Disruption in the employee’s daily routine
  • A “we have always done it this way” mentality
  • Viewing the change as inconvenient given what else is going on in the workplace or in the employee’s personal life
  • Fear of job loss
  • Tools and technologies insufficient to implement the change, lack of training

Best Practice

Take these best practice steps in order to help individuals in the organization move past their personal obstacles to change and to get buy-in, commitment and support for the change initiative:

First and foremost…COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, and COMMUNICATE some more! Communication – upfront before the start of the change initiative project, throughout the project and after implementation and evaluation is absolutely essential to keep employees engaged and reduce fears.

In small group meetings, one-on-one meetings or even just casual conversations with employees:

  • Highlight what happens if the organization does not change and the impact that may have on the individual employee
  • Discuss the benefits of change and how it can help in doing the work better and improve supporting clients
  • Promote the ability to learn new skills and increase knowledge when change occurs
  • Promote the excitement of something new
  • Show how the change will personally benefit the individual who is resistant
  • Clarify the change initiative to ensure understanding of what is happening and why
  • Highlight those individuals who are already working with the change or a component of the change
  • Ensure that those individuals who are making the change are involved in either defining the change and/or implementing the change

Consider also engaging individuals in a conversation by asking them to share with you:

  • What they believe may or may not work about the change
  • How they would proceed with the change initiative if they were managing it
  • What would they want to know to alleviate their concerns
  • What does success look like to them

Early and often communications – in a variety of ways (email, presentations, small group conversations, water cooler conversations, etc.) – enables for increased comfort with the change initiative and therefore increased buy-in and support.

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