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5 ways to make your employees less resistant to change

July 23, 2015, 4:30 PM UTC
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Photograph by Adri Berger — Getty Images

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you lead a team during a time of transition? is written by Evin Shutt, ‎chief operating officer and partner at 72andSunny.

We’ve chosen to be as proactive as we can with change, which means talking about it early and often. In fact, change is the only constant we can all count on. As someone who personally craves routine, 72andSunny’s take on welcoming change is a kind of challenge that keeps me motivated every day. But it took me some time to learn to embrace change instead of running from it. Here are a few things that have helped me along the way:

Make change a daily habit
For example, we change our employees’ seating frequently. We found it fosters more collaboration (meeting new employees and overhearing new conversations) essentially lying the groundwork for acceptance of change in the long run.

Empower employees to craft the change
We approach every project in a bespoke manner. Yes, we have best practices and guidelines, but we’re set up to allow each team to build what’s best for that specific client or project. This means each team is coming up with their own approach and process. If someone changes teams, gets a new brief or works with a new client, the way they work may change, too. Regardless of what the change is, employees always have a say in how to move forward.

Play both offense and defense
Back up plans need to be frequent conversations. We’re only confident in our decisions because we vet different scenarios and create backup plans around them. The more this thought process becomes a part of your everyday job (regardless of your role or level), the less scary bigger company-wide changes will be.

Be transparent
At 72andSunny, we have frequent meetings where we discuss why we are implementing new company initiatives. These town hall forums allow for an open and honest conversation. This practice is an important player in our company culture and lays the groundwork for bigger business transitions and conversations. If we don’t feel comfortable talking about something with all of our employees, it usually makes us question why we are doing it in the first place.

Allow time for adjustments
Our world is constantly changing. So it’s only fair to allow for a period of adjustment when big changes take place. Additionally, notifying people before a change takes place helps with onboarding. Employees appreciate hearing news from the source rather than hearing it from an outsider.

Choosing to high-five change versus fearing it takes constant work and dedication, but we’ve found it contributes to an optimistic and action-oriented culture, even when the most daunting changes come our way.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you lead a team during a time of transition?

Why it’s okay to lose your best employees (sometimes) by Joni Klippert, vice president of products at VictorOps.

Why you should thank your employees more often by Sherlonda Goode-Jones, partner at PwC.

How to manage chaos during a company shakeup by Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual.

4 surprising leadership lessons this CEO learned from her horse by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.

How to make change in the workplace less daunting by Sarah Watson, chief strategy officer of BBH N.Y.

The one word employees dread hearing in the workplace by Karen Tegan Padir, president of application development at Progress Software.

3 easy ways to manage chaos in the workplace by Angela Dorn, chief legal officer at Single Stop.

Meet the woman who rescued Build-A-Bear Workshop by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Managers, this is why you need to send more emails by Liz Wiseman, president of Wiseman Group.

The upsides of change at your company by Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation.

How every boss should tell employees that change is coming by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

3 ways to embrace change at your company by Kathy Collins, CMO of H&R Block.

A good boss never leaves their employees in the dark by Sandi Peterson, group worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson.