When we talk about change management, it's important to understand the "why" behind resistance to change as well as the "how" we can get our team on board.
“We’ve always done it this way, why change now?” isn’t an inspirational quote you’ll find in your Church Management 101 textbook. However, it’s a common question asked by staff members as well as leadership when a change is proposed. There’s nothing wrong with the question itself, but it is detrimental when it becomes an attitude that becomes a part of the culture of the church. Now, I’m not talking about theology or worship style; that’s an entirely different conversation. I’m talking about utilizing new methods to help you become more operationally efficient, increase giving and more so the church can advance the Kingdom work.
Reluctance to change can happen with many things, such as retrofits, bringing work in-house, new construction, new software and so on. I often see a reluctance to switch from a manual method of tracking facilities to automated facility and asset management. It’s a relatively new thing, and you’re talking about investing in something that’s not even a tangible item but, rather, a piece of software. So when we talk about change management, it's important to understand the "why" behind resistance to change as well as the "how" we can get our team on board.
Why are We Resistant to Change?
Our human nature detests the unknown. We are instinctively drawn to what is perceived as safe and secure. We become anxious when faced with change and find comfort in staying with the status quo. Even when our needs aren’t being met we can still be resistant to change. For example: Studies show that 25 percent of people who suffer a heart attack or stroke make no changes to their unhealthy habits!
For your team, there are some common reasons they may resist change:
- They’ve gotten comfortable with the way things are, or misunderstand the need for change
- They fear the “what-ifs” and the unknown
- They don’t understand how the change benefits them
- They don’t see anything in it for them, only the organization
- They perceive it to be too much effort
Whatever the reason, most of us are happy to stick with the status quo – which is why showing the value of change is so important.
Why Change is Important
Change inspires innovation, and innovation brings value to an organization.
Leadership is all about change. In today’s world we are seeing unprecedented change. What worked 15 years ago isn’t necessarily going to help us operate efficiently, preventing us from reaching the community and thriving today. After all, are you still using the same cell phone or same computer today that you were using 15 years ago? We all know that change can be beneficial to us, and willingness to change is critical to a church’s growth.
How to Implement Change
A study by Mount Eliza Business School in Melbourne found that over 70 percent of change initiatives fail due to people resistance, not because they weren’t worthwhile.
- Identify any potential areas mentioned above that may cause resistance to change. Clearly communicate the WHY behind the change to your constituents, and clearly explain how the change will take place
- Give them a chance to voice any questions or concerns they have; after all, it’s only fair to acknowledge their feelings
- Foster champions within your organization to rally their peers around the need for change
- Turn it into a game. I’ve worked with facility managers on implementing a facility management solution who have rewarded gift cards to the person who closes out the most work orders through the program in the first month, and offered various incentives to those who use the solution to put in work orders.
With overall church attendance shrinking, we have to embrace change and use the new opportunities God has placed in front of us to help us reach people, retain members, encourage giving, and equip ourselves with information to help us make better decisions and plan for the future.
To learn more about how to get your team on board and properly manage change, check out our whitepaper, “Empower Your Workforce Through Change Management”!