People don’t resist change, the resist being changed.
– Peter Scholtes
To survive an organization must be continually improving and changing. This requires both leadership commitment and the support and input from all employees. It is important to be mindful and aware of the concerns of everyone in order to leverage their support.
As Peter Scholtes noted above, people don’t automatically resist change. But they do want to understand the change and be given the opportunity to provide input, which creates ownership. This is one of the key advantages of kaizen: the change process includes people from all levels of the organization, particularly those that are part of the process. Giving people the training and support necessary to create change is respect.
People also want to understand the impact of change on their livelihoods. Leaders can often forget what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck, fearful of how they will support their families. Unless there is transparency, trust, and ownership, this will translate to a very conservative perspective on change, which will slow down improvements.
To create security, some Lean organizations tell their employees that no one will lose their jobs as a result of improvement activities. This is powerful, but you also want to be careful. Be sure to link the security directly to the improvement activities to avoid a misunderstanding that there is job security that transcends issues outside of their control, such as sudden changes in the market. You want to create trust, and trust requires transparency and only making promises you can keep.
To optimize improvement efforts, respect your people by asking them to play a key role in the improvement, providing security from potential side effects of the improvement, training and mentoring so they know how to create improvement, and the time to identify and execute improvement activities.