Change is hard for people, and most people have experienced far more change than they could ever have anticipated in the past few years. If you’re running a business, it’s important to develop a healthy relationship with change. Not only are you certain to encounter plenty of change yourself, but it is also your role to help others to navigate changes successfully.
Resistance Within Leadership
Change represents a loss of something familiar and comfortable, something that was working at the same time that it offers an opportunity. People are often more driven by fear of loss than they are by potential gain, and so business leaders are vulnerable to missing opportunities due to their own resistance to change.
One way to overcome resistance to change in yourself is to structure your team interactions to encourage the creativity and innovation of your employees. Eyal Gutentag, a performance marketing leader, used this strategy to create a path for growth for Uber. He harnessed the energy of their largely millennial workforce to promote a company culture that embraces innovation.
Resistance Among Your Team
While leaders have the benefit of a clear vision for the future of the business, employees are often more focused on day-to-day operations. If they do not see the challenge and the opportunity that led to a change in policies or procedures, they are likely to resist changing their own behavior.
To overcome resistance in your team, include them in the problem-solving process. Take the time to show them the opportunity you see and the gap between your current operations and the goal. It is likely they’ll come to the same conclusion as you, only with far more ownership than they’d feel if the change was directed by leadership. When your team is engaged in problem-solving, they may even come up with more effective solutions than would someone who is less engaged in the day-to-day operations of your business.
Resistance to Change in Your Customers
Often it is changes in customer behavior that drive your business to adapt. To continue to serve your customers in a changing world, your business must continuously seek feedback from customers about their needs and how well your business has served them. Routinely talking to current and potential customers about both current and anticipated needs strengthens their relationship with your business and helps you anticipate changes.
The same strategies can be useful when change is not initiated by the customer. For example, in 2020 a huge proportion of human interactions were rapidly transitioned to online platforms. Considering the external circumstances of a global pandemic, people quickly adopted new behaviors for attending classes, holding meetings, and chatting with relatives. Resistance to change seemed minimal. However, over time the strain of maintaining these new behaviors combined with the loss of the familiar structure and boundaries of our previous behaviors became more significant. “Zoom fatigue” set in. Those companies in regular communication with their customers and their team recognized this problem early, while others struggled.
Everyone experiences some resistance to change. In business, change represents both challenge and opportunity. The business that navigates change and helps others to do so successfully will thrive.