You are the project manager responsible for introducing the Social Intranet in your company. The board is proud to announce this new initiative: "We want to facilitate new forms of communication and cooperation, thereby preparing our corporate culture for the digital transformation in the long term.” One thing that you will quickly come to realize is that not all of your colleagues will be thrilled with this project. The success of the project depends directly on the acceptance of the Social Intranet. So how should you deal with the resistance among your colleagues?
What to expect in the face of resistance
proverb that says, "When the winds of change blow, some build walls and others windmills." Just how high these walls end up growing depends on several factors. For instance, how effectively changes have been handled in the past or how profoundly the change affects employees' everyday working lives. For you, however, the objective is not to prevent these resistances from occurring entirely. The important thing is that you do not allow yourself to be caught off guard by the resistance. Even if the new Social Intranet is the perfect solution to some of the problems that have long plagued many employees, there will be some resistance. After all, the comfort of the status quo is tremendously high and making changes requires an extensive amount of energy.
Three ways to deal with resistance
To mitigate the effects of resistance, there are essentially three possible approaches. These are, however, by no means mutually exclusive, but ideally complement each other to achieve a holistic system for dealing with resistance.
1. Avoiding resistance
About half of the instances of resistance that occur can be avoided, as shown by numerous studies by Prosci on the subject of change management. And to make sure that resistance does not occur in the first place is much more effective than having to deal with it later. This is why you should always apply to your project a structured change management approach. This will help you to implement the necessary steps to build awareness of the most important issues: Why is the change taking place? Why is it happening now? What are the risks if nothing changes? Senior and middle management should also be involved to convey the goals and priorities of the project. This is because the most common reason for resistance is a lack of awareness of the need for change. Providing transparency here disarms much of the resistance from the outset.
2. Dealing with resistance proactively
As a project manager, you most likely already have a sense of where resistance might come from. To manage resistance proactively, you should listen to this gut feeling. Following the emergence of a case of resistance, project managers often say: "We knew that this group is resistant to change and that they would react defensively". Yet, far too often this gut feeling is neglected or suppressed. However, if you leave out the critical voices, you usually only provoke stronger resistance at a later stage of the project. When dealing proactively with resistance, it is therefore important to anticipate probable resistance so that you can take this into account early on. This also includes the process of determining how to react to resistance.
3. Dealing with resistance reactively
After having prevented resistances and proactively worked out the corresponding measures, the next step is to deal with resistances that could not be foreseen or prevented. These mostly occur after the Social Intranet has gone live and the employees become aware of the changes. For this phase, you should prepare mechanisms to identify where resistance occurs. Feedback from employees is particularly important here. Therefore, the feedback channels should be as easy to use as possible and known to everyone. If you would like further feedback, it is often a good idea to involve managers directly. They will generally have a good insight into how their employees feel about the change. This allows you to take specific measures even after the go-live and to constantly increase the acceptance of your Social Intranet.
Resistance is a natural reaction to change. However, the duration and implications of resistance depend on how you support employees in their personal change process and how you deal with the resistance. By handling resistance effectively, you minimize negative effects on employees, increase the impact of the entire project and ultimately pave the way for the achievement of your goals.
Your checklist for dealing with resistance
Finally, we would like to give you some questions to help you understand the most important aspects of dealing with resistance:
1. Do you anticipate resistanceand take it into account when planning your project?
2. Have you identified whereresistance could occur in the organization?
3. Have you recognized howresistance could manifest itself in the course of the project?
4. Are you aware of the reasonsfor the occurrence of resistance?
5. Do you apply a system to detect resistance at an early stage?
6. Have you developed measuresfor dealing with resistance?
👉🏻If you can answer YES to all these questions with, you are well prepared for the challenges associated with dealing with resistance and there is nothing standing in the way of your successful social intranet.
🙋🏻♂️ If you want to know more about our partner Kronsteg, take a look here or contact them directly.