Many CEO has discovered that the most challenging part of the exacting organizational change is getting the staff to embrace it. Your company can have the budget, the technology, the marketing, and all the other pieces of the puzzle, but if it does not have staff support, the endeavor could be fraught with frustration. As you lay the groundwork for your upcoming moonshot, have you considered how your staff can take potshots at its implementation? If you want to advance your business strategically, change is essential. But while getting all your ducks in a row, be sure that everyone on your team is in line to enhance your chances for success.
What’s a Moonshot?
According to Forbes, “Moonshots are simply efforts that demand breakthroughs that are not possible within business-as-usual practices.” Your organization’s moonshot could refer to any number of projects that require significant change. You might be gearing up for major organizational restructuring, adoption of new technology, a company move, or the implementation of a new strategic plan. Merely changing staffing hours or personnel policies can face no end of backlash, but a breakthrough that demands significant change can be difficult to achieve even when your staff is on board. When your team is not on board, then your initiative faces a substantial threat from within your organization.
Why Do We Dislike Change at the Office?
If change were easy and always brought success, we might all be happy to embrace it. However, no matter how often the experts suggest that change is good, everyone from the CEO to the mailroom clerk frequently despises change at some level. Many organizations fall prey to the business-as-usual mentality because they enjoy the comfort of their old habits. Additionally, change highlights the possibility for difficulty or even a worsening of the current status quo. Change is a risk, and many employees may believe that risk-taking for them means little to no payoff. How much would you invest in an endeavor that was not only difficult but also posed a little personal benefit to you?
Many employees are apprehensive about organizational changes because they misunderstand the reasons for them and the benefits that they may afford. A moonshot project is a significant undertaking, but like many major projects, it tends to live within the offices of upper management during its development. By the time the project is fully rolled out to staff, the rumor mills will have already convinced staffers that the plan, in the words of young Alexander, is “terrible, horrible, no good, [and] very bad.” When the entire staff lacks reliable information, it will supply its own, even if it’s filled with inaccuracies.
Many a project has been thrown off course by a staff bent on sabotaging its implementation. Staff members at all levels resist change for numerous reasons. Your employees might be opposed to your moonshot because they fear they lack the competence needed to cope in a changed environment, they dislike the lack of control the change may necessitate, they worry about job loss, they see the cons but not the pros, they are encumbered by office politics, they fear losing their support system, or they don’t trust the change players. In many cases, staff members resist change simply because they don’t believe it will result in the hoped-for success.
Accept That There Will Be Naysayers
One of the real difficulties for a CEO or manager attempting to cope with the naysayers is that dislike of change, fear of change, and efforts to sabotage change exist under the radar. As a CEO, you might have made your moonshot announcement to a room filled with nodding heads and smiles, but you must suspect that many of them will leave that gathering filled with fear or possibly even be seething with anger. What you don’t know can hurt your initiative. Consequently, it’s important for the organizational leader(s) to understand that resistance to change is subtle, and it’s the subtle nature of the resistance that is so difficult to manage. So, to lay the groundwork for your moonshot’s success, you’ll need to carefully pave over the pitfalls that are associated with staff resistance to change.
Nurturing Your Staff to Embrace Change
One way to make your staff more amenable to change is to abandon the business-as-usual model and encourage change on a regular basis. A team that is used to change has plenty of experience coping with it successfully. No one respects irrelevant or chaotic change, but by practicing making small, positive changes, your staff will be better able to cope with significant, large-scale change.
Another way to cope positively with a staff that is apprehensive about change is to get out ahead of the rumors and prioritize communication. Certainly, there are reasons why management teams don’t want to roll out their moonshot plans from the get-go, but rather than planning for a general project announcement, the team should prepare a strategic plan of communication designed specifically with staff in mind. By eliminating misunderstanding and providing trustworthy information, organizational leaders can command more respect for their endeavor and more effectively guide employees toward acceptance.
Finally, company management must acknowledge that there will, indeed, be a few too many staffers who will resist their proposed changes. Assuming that these are valuable members of the organization, leaders should do their best to understand what’s driving the resistance. In some cases, in a downsizing or outsourcing situation, for example, this is going to be difficult, but without staff support for any initiative, that plan is under threat. Leaders can take steps to communicate how the change will benefit not only the company but individual employees. They can provide plenty of training to eliminate the fear that some employees will have regarding change. They can also listen and make changes to their plan based on employee input if those changes can truly benefit the project or the business in some way.
The fact is, organizational leaders cannot ignore or dismiss employee dislike of change when embarking on a significant project. Many companies have underestimated the damage that a disgruntled staff can bring to a new project or significant organizational change. To improve the chances for your moonshot’s success, it’s vital to ensure that your entire team is prepared to offer support and is not poised to take potshots at its progress.