Business change is often seen as being the responsibility of management alone. After all the business change program is often initiated by management and they then decide to implement it (usually), so it is all down to management isn’t it?

In fact, it isn’t, because the ‘average’ worker, the person who is not a part of the management team, who is operating on the factory or the shop floor is actually fundamental in ensuring the success of business change and for this reason it is vital that any business change is embraced and endorsed by them, because failure to engage with them will cost a company dear in the longer run!

Why Mr or Ms Average Is Important

The average worker may sometimes feel as if they are not in an ‘important’ role within the company, but in fact they can be responsible for making sure that the cogs on the wheel move without a hitch.
Within the field of change management it is estimated that at least half of all change management projects fail, simply because of ‘people issues’. In other words, whoever was in charge of the changes being implemented, failed to successfully engage with Mr and Ms Average Worker; so the project failed… that is an important role!

Putting Theory Into Practice

The average worker is the man or woman who actually puts the theory of change into practice. They need to do it in a way that they understand and they also need to be aware of why the change has come about, otherwise, if they are resistant to the change, then it can be doomed to failure.

In a sense workers can undermine business changes, not through wilful disobedience, but through something akin to ‘passive resistance’ whereby they do not try to disrupt the process, but similarly, they do not try to solve any little problems, when implementing the changes. Indeed they can implement them in such a way that they are almost keen to see them fail.

Quiet Resistance

It may be reasonable to expect that staff who are told about businesses changes would voice any opposition to management. But often those who are the most resistant to change will acquiesce during meetings. They will be the ones who do not question, but they then leave the meeting and start a ‘Whispering Campaign’ detailing how the proposed changes will ‘never work’ and how ridiculous they are.

This type of whispering campaign is particularly toxic, because it can spread like wildfire, no matter how big the company and the result is that the workforce become disengaged from the proposed changes, which again results in the changes failing.

Getting Workers To Embrace Change

The trick is to get workers to embrace changes and understand why they are coming about. They also need to be fully aware of what could happen if the changes fail. So they understand the implications of failure, which could be down time or failure to hit performance targets or even job losses. Whatever the implications they need to be told. Otherwise those resistant to change will be able to spread their toxic rash.

The average worker should also be helped to see that he or she is vital to successful business changes and that they have a very important role to play, so without them it cannot happen. They need to be encouraged not just to embrace the changes but to own them as well!

So the average worker is certainly important within any business change and the moral of the tale is that you should ignore them at your peril!

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