If you’ve ever tried to implement a new project, system, or process, you’ve no doubt felt some level of frustration when your colleagues haven’t shown the same level of enthusiasm for the initiative as you, or when you come up against resistance for the new approach. It’s important not to take it personally – change is hard for people, and organisational change can be particularly difficult to enact successfully because it is so often treated purely as the implementation of a new process.
In the face of fast-paced shifts in the industry, compliance, technology, and clients, this represents a challenge for accounting practices. We need to be ready and able to effectively implement change across our businesses, keeping our team and clients on the side and engaged in the process – whether it’s changing key business processes, office layout or implementing a software solution.
But why do we find change at work so difficult? There are three common reasons you might meet resistance when trying to implement change and how to overcome them:
The barrier to change: Fear of failure
Creating new habits is hard, trying something new can be daunting, and putting yourself in new environments can bring on anxiety. The thought of learning new procedures and having to change ways of working can have just the same effect on people in the workplace. Very few people actively want to fail at something, so fear of failure may lead to resistance to change particularly if the current process seems to be doing the job.
Embracing the change:
If implementing a new process, procedure or software solution be sure to provide extensive training and documentation to your team. Have an external sales rep or expert join your team for walkthroughs, provide cheat sheets, and organise a de-brief or group check-in shortly after implementation to air concerns or answer questions. Providing training or even implementing in stages can also assist in helping your team feel that they are mastering the new process, rather than being overwhelmed. Be patient and prepared for a learning curve or period of transition as people adjust to the new way of working.
The barrier to change: Concern about job security
One of the biggest factors influencing resistance to organisational change stems from concern about how the change will impact people personally. With the accounting industry already being blasted with headlines on the dying nature of compliance or the rise of AI rendering roles redundant, it’s no wonder people can get funny about embracing new software systems or offshoring options: changes often implemented to create capacity for new and engaging work but that are often met with fear and resentment.
Embracing the change:
Regardless of the significance of the change, it’s important to bring your team on the journey so that they understand both the drivers for change and the desired outcomes from the process. Explain how the new process or system will enhance their lives, get their thoughts and ideas on what success will look like, and be open and transparent right from the beginning and throughout the change process.
The barrier to change: Misunderstanding of the benefits
It’s human nature to ask “what’s in it for me” both at home, and at the office. If you’re already facing issues with engagement or lack of trust, you will likely come up against resistance towards change if your team can’t see reward systems built into the new process or way of working.
Embracing the change: Build in recognition and rewards
While you might be viewing the change as a necessity and part-and-parcel of the business evolving, your team might not be on the same level. Beyond ensuring that you clearly communicate the benefits and motivations for change to your team, consider gamifying the change process with built-in reward systems. These might be in the form of prizes or recognition for suggestions on best-practice or rewards for early adoption.
Organisational change isn’t easy – but with a little thought and forward planning, you can get your team on board and collaborate for effective change together. Clearly and transparently articulating what the change is, why you’re doing it, and exactly how it will impact your team, will ensure your next organisational change project, whether it’s a key business process, office layout, or implementing a software solution, will be a success.
Ready to make a change? Implementing a new software solution shouldn’t be hard. Our team are here to help you and your team transition to your new way of working. Click here to find out more about our solutions and how we can help you change for the future.
Brad also co-ordinates the annual benchmarking study “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession.”
In his spare time you will find Brad in the backyard playing cricket with his two boys.
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