Your workplace is probably changing in more ways than one. You may be bringing employees back to the office, launching a new service for clients or learning a new customer management system. If you notice pushback from your sales reps amid all these changes, don’t be surprised. According to Ben Brearley, founder of Thoughtful Leader, people are often resistant to change. This can be a good thing, signaling that they are engaged and want to contribute.

However, if your sales reps are actively resisting or refusing to engage at all, you can take steps to encourage your employees to make the required changes. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Brearley’s thoughts on how to help your team overcome resistance to change.

  1. Acknowledge the discomfort. It’s not easy changing what you are used to and going into the unknown. When circumstances, routines or systems change, let your team members know you understand how they feel. A little empathy can go a long way, says Brearley, and show that you are not ignoring others’ feelings can be helpful. By opening up, you can help break down some resistance.
  2. Understand motivations. According to Brearley, people are usually motivated in to two ways: away-from motivation and toward motivation. With away-from motivation, you are moving away from something that can harm you (think fleeing from a tiger running after you). With toward motivation, you are going after something you want. Combining both types of motivation can help create lasting change, says Brearley, so look for ways to incorporate both when addressing your team.
  3. Remove the original way of operating. If your change involves a new tool or system, get rid of the old one so your sales reps can’t revert back to it in the first place. And if you want your sales reps to follow a new process, look for ways to keep them from using the original one, whether that means creating new forms or removing the originals. The idea is to reduce the options for people to slip back into old habits, says Brearley.
  4. Outline consequences. Remember that what you allow is what will continue. If your sales reps refuse to adopt a specific change, there should be a consequence. Brearley says this could be constructive feedback or a negative mark on their performance review. If there is no meaningful consequence, then you are essentially rewarding resistance to change, he says.
  5. Have an open discussion. If your sales reps are hesitant about change, it can be helpful to have an open discussion about it. Let the team know how you have observed resistance and listen to how they respond. You might learn something surprising, or you might hear great reasons why the change has been problematic for someone. While these conversations are not easy, if you approach them from a place of empathy, you can often make a breakthrough, says Brearley.

Change can be difficult, but it can also bring about positive changes in the workplace. You can help your sales reps adapt to adjustments by recognizing their emotions, understanding different motivations and making it difficult to revert back to old processes. It also helps to thoughtfully discuss the changes so your team members have a better understanding. If you face resistance, follow the guidance above to help move past it.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is the founder of Thoughtful Leader and is an experienced leader, AIPC and PRINT® certified coach and MBA passionate about developing thoughtful and effective leaders.