In a world where constant change has become the norm, the strategic imperative for businesses is clear: adapt or die. Without being open to doing things differently, business owners are unlikely to keep abreast of the changes and innovations happening around them. Facing change – even if it is pre-planned – can be daunting. However, it should be embraced as it provides the opportunity for companies to stay ahead of the curve, to outperform their competitors and for their people to thrive. At odds with change, resistance to change is a common reaction in human beings. At work, not all employees react positively to change and their resistance to change can dramatically inhibit planned improvements or transformation. Resistance to change can be brought about by feelings of low self-confidence, lack of need for achievement or low motivation. For business leaders this can create serious obstacles in making headway towards reaching their envisioned goals.  


The key to a company’s change lies in its people 

When it comes to productive, lasting change, any successful transformation comes down to it being embraced by the people who make up a company – supported by the vision and values that connect them. Initiating effective change comes from being employee-centered: focusing on transparent, two-way communication, maintaining a supportive culture, motivating your employees and helping them to develop the skills they need to thrive in the changed company.  


Implementing planned change 

Planned change is the outcome of purposeful effort to bring about additions, improvements or complete transformation. Its aim could be to achieve new goals or move in a brand-new direction. Whether planned changes are big or small, they have more chance of being effective when initiated with a clear, upfront understanding of the need for change (rather than change for change’s sake) and a well-considered strategy for rolling it out. 


There are five aspects that must be put in place for successful change to occur.  

1. Vision: Inspire your people through providing purpose 

Answering the question “why” is powerful. It can be used to communicate the rationale behind change and convey its benefits for employees and the company. It helps in connecting the reasons for change to the greater purpose of the company. To inspire a sense of purpose around change, clearly articulate why change is necessary and how it will be of practical benefit to the company and its people.  

2. Training: Enable people with the skills they need to succeed  

Resistance to change can be due to the stress of learning new systems and procedures on the hop – and the worry that one’s role will become obsolete. Training is vital for supporting employees by equipping them with skills they need to succeed now and in the business’s future. For managers, change management training involves leadership training to help them better guide, motivate and communicate with employees during a time of change or implementing new things.  

3. Development: Instill a culture of continuous learning 

When change is constant, personal development is critical. Providing the means for self-development and instilling a culture of continuous learning will lead to your employees having a growth mindset. Adopting this mentality builds resilience and flexibility, so the team can more easily manage present and future change. Leading by example, business owners and managers should model how to approach challenges as a learning and growth opportunity – and encourage their employees to do the same. 

4. Incentives: Make your employees heroes 

Successful change initiatives can depend on having the right employee incentives in place. Taking change on board is encouraged when the right attitude and quality performance is recognised and rewarded. In the lead up to launching a change-related reward programme, it can be helpful to answer the following questions: 

  • Will the change bring tangible results? What will those results look like? 
  • How can leaders quantify employee accomplishment so that those who perform well can be rewarded?  

5. Action plan: Provide a clear road map with milestones 

By communicating “how” through a detailed action plan, leaders can provide clarity and accountability for change processes and outcomes. An action plan lays out, step by step, how the change will be implemented. It sets predetermined milestones and deliverables and provides indicators of progress and success. An action plan should also detail the responsibilities and company expectations of each team and employee. Employees can be given a sense of ownership of impending change by being involved in suggesting how new systems or a new regimen can be embedded into the company’s processes and practices.  


Unplanned change 

As difficult as it can be to prepare for a variety of “What if” scenarios, the cost of not putting plans in place to handle a curveball or crisis can range from mildly irritating to catastrophic for a business. This is a lesson that so many companies learned as a result of the Covid pandemic. Contingency planning entails developing plans, systems and procedures to lower the impact of a setback or crisis. It is a process of putting pre-planned steps in place that become the tools you need to lower the negative impact on your business and your employees.  

  • Identify any potential crises that could affect your business. 
  • Consider the best-case, worst-case and most likely scenarios. 
  • Outline the actions and resources needed to prevent, lessen, or recover from each one. 
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of the people who will be involved in managing the crisis. 
  • If possible, conduct simulations, drills, or exercises to test your plan under different conditions.  
  • Communicate the contingency plan and provide any necessary training.  


When helping employees to deal with radical change, leaders should emphasise the things that will never change. Know what lies at the heart of your company — your purpose and your core values — and make it clear these are cast in stone. This unchanging foundation will give your employees a sense of security and stability during times of profound change – and help them embrace smaller changes that will not impact their role or the company at a fundamental level. 

Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Leave A Comment