Overcoming Resistance to IT Service Management Change

You’ve finally found the perfect solution for that nagging IT service management problem. Yet when you present it to employees, a general grunt of resistance rises. People are naturally inclined to resist change.

IT leaders can guide any team smoothly through a transition by establishing a change management plan. This plan should address the technological aspects of change, as well as the human elements. Ultimately, no change management plan can succeed unless staffers “buy in” to the process.

Process improvement initiatives will be more widely accepted if you follow the tips listed below.

1. Explain the why and wherefore to change hearts and minds.

Change management plan experts tell us that change is easier when actors are engaged on several levels – emotional and rational motivations both have power. For instance, in their book Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, brothers Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of Jon Stegner, an executive at a large manufacturing firm. Stanger was looking for ways to cut costs, and with the help of an energetic intern, he found a compelling example of how poor purchasing habits were causing the company to bleed money. Stegner chose to examine a single savings opportunity: gloves, which employees at each of the company’s hundreds of factory locations used regularly. Because each factory negotiated their own glove prices, the brand was wasting huge amounts of money. Some factories had negotiated a price of $5, while others paid $17 per pair of gloves.

Stegner knew that the rational side of more organized purchasing was important, but in order to inspire change, he also recognized the importance of motivating his fellow executives. To get their emotions on board, he asked his assistant intern to fetch a pair of each type of gloves ordered by the factory. It turned out that the brand was ordering 424 different types of gloves! Stegner ordered that a price tag be placed on each type of glove. All of the gloves were then piled onto the executives’ meeting table. The board members were speechless when they saw this stunning display of the money wasted by poor purchasing habits. This dramatic arrangement moved them to make a change in their own company – which many board members can tell you is a real challenge.

The moral of the story is that your staffers will be more likely to go along with your changes if they understand why they are being instituted. If you can come up with an attention-getting way to show the reasoning behind the changes, do it. Remember that people’s behavior is driven both by emotions and by logic. Incorporate both in your change management plan to foster success. You’ll want to prove value to the brand as well as to the individual employee.

2. Include many different type of thinkers when creating a change management plan.

As change expert Steve Jobs knew, true innovation occurs when many different types of people gather together. Face-to-face meetings will also bring up the issues surrounding change, so they can be hashed out before the shift must actually occur.

3. Spend time with “customers,” i.e. the people who actually use the technology you maintain.

IT service management should spend time with internal customers in order to learn what changes would make their lives easier. This approach builds trust, which acts as capital that can later be “cashed in” when implementing a change management plan.

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