Why Your Employees Won’t Support Change…and What You Can Do About It

You have a lofty vision that gets you out of bed each morning. You’ve announced it to the world. There are some early adopters. Things are looking promising until you hit the wall of resistance from what appears to be a critical mass of employees. Why aren’t they as excited about the change as you and the early adopters are? The answer may lie in the power of beliefs…

Values and beliefs have always been at the center of change management theory and practice. In recent years, research has shown that a certain type of belief, namely ‘self-efficacy beliefs’ are a key determinant in individual and group success.

Self-efficacy beliefs are those beliefs one holds about ones capability to perform a task or achieve a goal. If the belief is low, or non-existent, then any failed attempts to complete the task or achieve the goal will reinforce, or further lower the belief. It’s a downward spiral.

If you have employees who are resisting change, then check out their beliefs about themselves regarding their capability to achieve the goal you are setting for them. If an employee’s self-efficacy beliefs are low, then failure needs to be avoided in the initial stages. So much for the refrain ‘fail forward’! That will only work for those who have a high level of self-efficacy belief. It will kill off any chance of success for those with very low levels of self-efficacy beliefs.

Where there is a low level of self-efficacy belief, set the person up for repeated small successes.  This will build their confidence and belief in their capabilities. But make certain that the goals you set for them, or they set for themselves, stretch them and are meaningful. Achieving goals that are too easy or meaningless will achieve nothing.

As the person’s self-efficacy strengthens, then they can begin to handle some degree of setbacks or failure, and learn to rebound from adversity.

How do you check for self-efficacy beliefs? Ask simple, direct questions, in a coaching manner. Here are some coaching questions you can pose:

  • In your opinion, how difficult will it be to implement this change?
  • What obstacles do you see concerning this change?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being HIGH, how would you rate the potential for success in implementing this change?
  • What concerns you most about this change?
  • What coaching or help will you need to implement this change?

Of course, these are not the only questions you could ask, but they will certainly help you gather insights into the other person’s level of confidence in their ability to manage the change.

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