Whether you are setting up shared workspaces, initiating flexible work arrangements, or launching a telework program, each have a lot of moving parts and can be challenging. Chances are pretty good you’ve discovered that some managers in your organization are resistive to these changes, and some might even be outright against it.

–Don’t be surprised if you find the ‘people part’ of the new workplace more challenging than the ‘technology part.’–

As you begin mapping out your strategy for workplace change, one of the most important changes you’ll make is turning manager resistance into active support. Consider these ideas for doing that:

  • Define it: Is it possible that many managers’ ideas on how the new workplace will work are based on misconceptions and unfounded opinions? Yes. So, your very first task is to clearly define the new workplace, describe the controls that will be in place, and be clear on the value it will bring to the organization.
  • Ground it: Recruit an executive champion to become the lightning rod for driving the program forward. When the new workplace has undeniable management support, budget and priority, the path to manager buy-in will be a straight line.
  • Confine it: A primary fear of the unenlightened manager is the grief they’ll get after advising a marginal employee they’re not going to be working away from the office. Establishing specific participation criteria – such as performance minimums – changes those dynamics. On the positive side, there’s nothing like a telework option to motivate improved performance.
  • Benign it: Unenlightened managers will conjure up all kinds of reasons this won’t work. Find out what’s on their minds, then address all the issues in a gathering. Very often issues can be neutralized by getting objections on the table and discussing in front of peers.
  • Design it: Under the direction of your workplace program team, provide managers the tools and direction to review their current practices, then provide guidance for updating their team communications plan and updating their work and project activity tracking process.
  • Refine it: Providing managers with tools, tips and process for creating continuous coachable moments will go a long way. Help them build a high-performing team by updating team communication, collaboration and accountability. After launch, use survey and focus group feedback for fine tuning the process.
  • Combine it: Workplace change affects so many aspects of the workplace, there are likely ample opportunities to combine distributed work with other strategic initiatives. Some might include updating leadership skills, ergonomics reform, technology upgrades, using new collaboration tools, updating virtual meeting skills, etc.
  • Bottom line it: Show managers how they play an integral role in ensuring a rapid, efficient, and effective transition into the technology-enabled workplace. Provide them with feedback, support and public recognition for positive results.

Resistance to change by managers does not need to be a game-ender

As you begin planning for your program for shared workspaces, flexible work arrangements or telework, focus on bringing the managers on board. Prepare them for the experience by providing them with the tools for success, and showing them the many ways they’ll benefit from the program.

With a concerted effort and a bit of finesse, you might be delighted to see resistance to change suddenly morph into enthusiastic support!

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See the Evolving Workplace e-Learning Series: Technology-enabled workplace change can only be successful if the people change too. The e-work.com Evolving Workplace e-Learning Series modules accelerate workplace change through a deliberate mindshift in individuals, teams and the enterprise to work together in new ways.

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