One of the biggest challenges in introducing a change successfully is converting the ‘nay sayers’ to our supporters.
You know who they are every organisation, or team, has them. They are the people who are perpetualling looking at the ‘dark side of the moon’ and seeing everything that is wrong in you’re trying to achieve.
Why bother to convert the naysayers in your planned change?
Well what you don’t want is the ‘nay sayers’, those who are negative about every element of a change, undermining the change, or worse still sabotage it. You don’t won’t them disrupting and unsettling others by their constant criticism or objections.
Now in reality you may not be able to completely convert them from day 1 – but your goal should be to soften their voice and learn from their fears.
Yes I said fear, as often the reason for their negativity is fear of the unknown, or change to their routine, power or influence in the workplace.
How to convert the ‘naysayers’ to champions of change?
First of all to support them you need to understand the nature of their fear. What is it about the change that causes them to resist it.
1. Choose those ‘naysayers’ with strong social connections
First it is useful to concentrate your efforts on identifying and engaging with some ‘key’ naysayers. That is those who have influence, a large network of contacts and relationships in their area of work, or across the organisation.
These naysayers are critical to identify and engage with. If you tackle them first you will be multiplying the effect of our efforts. Why? Because they will use their networks to spread the outcomes of your discussions/work.
2. Choose neutral ground
To gain a better understanding of their fears you must sit down and exploring with them their concerns. This might be done 1:1, or in a group, but these discussions need to be neutral – don’t try to convince and convert.
So from the change leaders perspective this means ‘you need to let go off any ‘ownership’ of the change’. Don’t be protective or an advocate for the change. Try to be open to hearing and feeling their views. Try to see the change and its impact from their perspective.
3. Chart the terrain and map a course
Through these discussions you can begin to make lists of concerns, and chart our the impact of the change as seen through their eyes. What is the root of their objection. Keep asking the ‘why’ question and every now and then a ‘what if’ question as you progressively work through the issues they raise.
You will begin to gain a complete picture of the real impact of the change on the working live and relationships.
If you place these lists/charts against the actual process changes you will truly see the impact of the change in the minds of your colleagues.
4. Find solutions
Now you have an understanding of the ‘problem’, it is time to work with these to find solutions. This doesn’t mean going back to the ‘change team’ and coming back with ready made solutions.
It means sitting down with the same team of ‘naysayers’ and exploring possible workable solutions. If you need to go away and get approval – by all means do, but the genesis of the solutions should come from this small group of ‘naysayers’ (who I should say have now morphed into ‘solution finders’ through a process of engagement and joint problem solving.
This is not an easy process but it will reap rewards and improve your planning for the introduction of change.