No matter how well a company researches and writes its procedures and processes; employees resist if their input to the business process documentation strategy is not evident. You might hear statements like:
- “Not again!”
- “You’re kidding.”
- “That’s the dumbest document I’ve ever read.”
- “We’ve never done the procedure that way before.”
This is nothing more than an initial shock to something new. Most resistance to change comes from:
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of being taken advantage of
- Fear of failure
- Fear of being left out
You cannot eliminate people’s fears. But, you can help them manage the change. In this way, you gain buy-in by providing employees with information from the beginning of the process improvement strategy. Ultimately, you increase acceptance, compliance, and productivity.
Six Communication Steps to Minimize Resistance to the Business Process Documentation Strategy
In Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: A Step-by-Step Resource for Clear Communication, Nancy J. Campbell lists six communication steps to use to minimize employee resistance.
Involve others throughout the business process documentation.
This can include new employees, experienced employees, the official supervisor, the informal leader, senior management, quality control people, and subject matter experts. Although this takes time, it is worth the effort. The resulting acceptance and implementation are much less painful for everyone.
Give employees a chance to comply with the business process documentation.
One of the mistakes made in implementing a business process documentation strategy is thinking that people do not want detailed explanations. Pointing out the benefits of the strategy increases the likelihood of cooperation. People should be given the chance to comply; otherwise, people feel like robots. For instance, a medical practice management company retained my services to create policies and document procedures and processes without explaining to the staff what was happening. By the time explanations were provided, employee cooperation was compromised.
Be willing to listen to what people have to say about the business process documentation.
Face the issues, no matter how unpleasant or unpopular. Encourage questions and be willing to listen to the answers. People will have doubts. They might be angry, confused, or frustrated. Let them vent; they want to be heard.
Make consequences for noncompliance clear within the documents.
Let the employees know what exceptions can be made, and by whom they can be made. Tell them who the enforcer is, and to whom the rule applies. Be sure the standards for compliance are clear. Some people may honestly believe they are complying when they are not.
Repetition is how most of us learn.
It is how we retain, comprehend, or believe. Provide training when needed. Hold people accountable. Most importantly, make sure managers and supervisors provide support through their daily actions and words.
Your organization changes daily; the rules have to change as well.
Ask questions to determine whether the documentation is working and whether it is doing what it is intended to do. There may be a small glitch that is causing major issues. There may be a major glitch that no one saw. Things beyond your control such as market change, new regulation, new technology, or new management may happen shortly after implementation. It is wise to keep on top of these factors to ensure your documentation remains current and relevant.