The first thing to understand is that resistance to change is normal. Some would say it is widespread. Many of us see change and resist – easily, spontaneously and naturally. And as the job of a business analyst is to promote change, to find problems and suggest new ways to overcome them – through change – then the least they can do is assist in breaking down the resistance encountered when change is first mooted. But how?
Now the Business Analyst is often in that unique position of talking to and working directly with, for hours on end, the end user, customer or affected party. So there are a couple of techniques that are important to implement to smooth the way to change.
Good communication is essential. The case for change needs to be explained in detail and with clarity. People fear change and see it as a risk. What is needed is an explanation that the risk of not making the change is greater than the risk of actually making that change. So enter the business analyst who is great at communicating.
Talking the talk is not enough; you must be able to walk the walk. Don’t do as I say, do as I do. Any business analyst who thinks they can come up with a brilliant idea for change and then leave it to others to implement is not nearly as effective as someone who can either demonstrate the change or convince others within the company to do just that. The key here is empathy, regardless of the outcome for those affected, show understanding and reassure them that they will be looked after. (and make sure they are…)
Convince a leader. It happens in so many walks of life. Some people are followers and feel a sense of loyalty to a leader or special person within the group. If that leader is convinced that the proposed change is the way to go, you have killed the resistance by the amount of all the leader’s followers. The Business Analyst through their interactions will be well placed to identify this person, they are often not necessarily the boss.
Fear of the unknown is sometimes the greatest fear of all. So replace the unknown with the known and remove that fear and thus that resistance. If the change means a new set of skills are required then demonstrate a clear pathway to up-skilling. People with the skills to handle the change will be far less resistant to the change. Arm the Business Analyst with the right messages to pass on to give people enough knowledge to alleviate the fear.
Praise always has a place in the morale of your staff. If a change is brought in and staff members begin to feel overwhelmed or become tired just coming to grips with the change, then managers need to be ready with praise for efforts and relief time to regenerate batteries. Managers need to look forward and see what will happen to staff when the change is implemented. Be prepared for their reaction with a program to overcome any negative thoughts and resistance. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. The Business Analyst needs to be built into this plan and they should be tasked with raising an alarm if they see the morale dropping so that the managers can jump into action and stay well on top of the issues.
Become one of them. Many people resist change because they see the business analyst as an outsider – which they often are – and as someone with a personal agenda unrelated to the life and agendas of the workers. An analyst should do all they can to show they are doing the job for the good of the company which includes the good of the staff. Be seen as a reformer but not as someone interested in their own career and thus not interested in the workers. Be interested in them. Become one of them. Be one of the good guys.
Change can be difficult because of the natural resistance from some, even many related to the project. A business analyst, because of their unique position, can do much to lower resistance to change.
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