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March 3, 2010 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
Today's tip has to do with understanding resistance to change.
It has become a cliché to say that change is a constant in today's business environment. Cliché or not, the accelerating pace of change means that facility executives are likely to find themselves in an effort to bring about substantial change. That change may affect all employees — as with an effort to educate occupants about their role in energy efficiency — or it may be focused on facility department staff, as with a change in the way that work is assigned within the department.
Regardless of the nature of the change, one thing is sure: there will be resistance. Here are some common reasons for resistance:
• Failure of past change efforts. Employees who have seen earlier initiatives fade away after much excitement and hard work are more likely to be cynical about a new effort — and reluctant to put in the extra work that's needed to make it happen.
• Fear of the unknown. Change can be threatening. It may suggest that the way employees have been working isn't good enough. It also requires adapting to new ways of working — and raises the question of what will happen to those who don't adapt.
• Misunderstandings about the plan for change. Change efforts always prompt rumors, whether about the extent of the change or the "real" reason for the change. If employees don’t enough get solid information about the change initiative, they are likely to believe what they hear — and most of it will be bad.
That resistance can be frustrating, but facility executives who understand the reasons for resistance and can empathize with those who resist change will be better able to deal with that resistance.